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WASTE/LAND/PROCESS BRUCE DAVIES ART + LANDSCAPE AT HOLTON HEATH


Š 2011 Bruce Davies. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. This book contains material protected under International and Federal Copyright Laws and Treaties. Any unauthorized reprint or use of this material is prohibited. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system without express written permission from the author. Bruce Davies can be contacted via: www.wastelandprocess.wordpress.com


WASTE/LAND/PROCESS

BRUCE DAVIES ART + LANDSCAPE AT HOLTON HEATH MARCH/APRIL 2011 This archive of images is a record of the work created at Holton Heath as part of a Arts Council England residency in conjunction with Holton Lee. Holton Lee is a contemporary arts organisation that supports deaf and disabled artists and is set amongst a unique 350 acre coastal Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) in Dorset, UK. This area is comprised of habitats which include heathland, intertidal salt marsh, reed bed, mudflats, woodland and farmland. The larger part of the site is managed and protected as an SSSI. Holton Lee is situated within the wider Poole Harbour SSSI which is one of the largest natural harbours in the world. The Harbour is internationally renowned for its fringe habitats of heathland, grassland (of which Holton Lee forms part of) and islands that provide habitats for rare and endangered flora and fauna. Heath land has developed as a distinct habitat through human intervention as a place for extensive grazing and fuel. For the management of heathland traditional techniques such as cutting, burning and grazing of vegetation are employed to prevent it from turning into scrub land. Partly through neglect, but also from urban sprawl, over grazing and intensified farming practices it has become a habitat under threat. No longer of economical use in agricultural terms it is Increasingly valuable in terms of nature conservation and public access, though culturally we have little or no use for the resources harvested from it. Sustainability became an important element and point of discussion in this project, particularly in attempting to find an end use for the material created by the heaths management and to highlight its potential as a useful resource once again. At the time of my arrival I set out to develop a project that responded to the management processes used in heath land restoration already occurring on the heath land site. The use of the heath for the presentation of new work connects to my interest in how to draw out a visual conversation about how we have used the landscape in the past and how we use it today. In my previous work heath land has become a place that I have used to explore how we engage with landscape to ask what is an appropriate use of landscape today and what do we expect from it? The site at Holton Heath and the historical elements of place to be found there provided a context rich frame work for me to draw from. A self imposed restriction on my activities of only using materials sustainably sourced from the heath enabled me to explore our contemporary relationship with the landscape and its traditions more closely. The result was the creation of an ephemeral mosaic of installations (Stacks) across the various habitat zones of the heath so they might be seen as a creative ‘crop’ that has


emerged from waste such as Furze, bracken, hedgerow brash. Given the apparent lack of contemporary usefulness for the material used in the on-site installations, particularly Furze, my exploration focussed on the connection between the place where the material has been grown, why it was gathered and what – if any – are the uses for it? I wanted to explore and extend the potential of this material to bring it back into use as a way of reconnecting to the circle of human activity once prevalent on heaths in times past. Previous activity led to the establishment of an ecosystem that was then an important and necessary – if hard won - part of extensive agriculture. Technological developments have allowed us to break with our reliance with natural resources such as heaths. Now the bounty of the heath is reaped through recreational experiences - one of enjoyment, rather than a relationship based on necessity. Amenity use is now firmly part of the accepted cultural tradition of heath lands. Where as in the past its priority would have been a vital place for extensive grazing, a source of fuel and fodder. Toward the end of the project I was asked by the Nature Conservation Officer for Holton Lee to construct a barrier (the last to be constructed in the central area 'STACK No.7') to stop vehicles using a temporary access route across the heath that had been opened up for recent forestry work. This solution of commissioning an artwork in order to solve a practical problem was an interesting development that drew the project to a conclusive end and uncovered a practical application for the material and art work created there. The form and construction of the stacks (which are destined and intended to become habitat piles) developed in part out of the need to make a robust structure that will with stand extreme elements on exposed sites. Which ever way the wind blows it meets the curved resisting surface of the stack. Each branch interlocks with each other from the centre out. The spines grip together like a natural Velcro. The clipped hedge like finish of the work is in part a reference of our inclination to refine and mould things to our requirements, but also realises a desire to create forms that are at odds with their surroundings. Reminding us that this environment is a site of both work and pleasure. The exception to the circular form was 'STACK No.8'. The sheltered position of the site amongst the road side Pine plantation presented new possibilities. The Furze cut on the open central zone of the heath was stacked on the spot from where it was cut so that it wouldn't hinder the regeneration of heath land plants. In the shade of the plantation site however, plant life had been suppressed due to the density of the planting and accumulated leaf litter. This allowed more scope in determining an appropriate response to the wooded site, particularly in regards to form. The trees, at first potential obstacles for the siting of the work eventually became 'cornerstones' or posts as their rooted strength enabled me to explore 3 sided dimensional forms. The form of the stacks have other references too. In a previous project (CUT/STACK/BURN, 2007) a visual


exploration into our contemporary relationship with energy creation, I built a large scale installation that referenced industrial fuel storage bunkers. This helped inform the development of this project but it was further influenced by the solidity of the concrete buildings of the disused Cordite factory at Holton Heath. A number of the on-site installations referenced the activities of flora and fauna that inhabit the heath. 'Bracken Stack' evolved out of observing wood ants construct their nests in what appears to be a free-form activity in contrast to the construction methods I used to build the Furze stacks. For 'Bracken Stack' the material was gathered from a dense layer of bracken litter raked up on the site of the proposed work. The concept for the work, the site, method and material were chosen to operate in collaboration with the management plans to bring back particular heathland flora to that zone. The result of the gathering activity then left the ground exposed to sun light and helped facilitate this process. The off-site work displayed in the gallery at Holton Lee, such as 'Artist's Tool Kit' and 'Unhinged' were assembled from materials discovered during the construction of the furze and hedging brash stacks. The bristles for the brushes were taken from the carcass of a poached white stag, while 'Unhinged' is made from felling hinges collected from recent forestry extraction on the heath. The triptych of video stills of a white stag 'Holton Lee stag' were the results of many unsuccessful attempts to photograph the Sika deer in the vicinity of my work. The images have an ethereal quality that is further played out in the narrative of the installation 'Life cycle of the Heath'. In this work I have tried to draw out the enduring physical connection and longevity of the Sika deers presence on the heath. A stack of furze can present a fire risk to the heath and danger for the people who visit it. After it is cut it is normally burnt safely on site in a controlled manner. As such the installations constructed on the heath are designed to have a limited time span leaving only photographic records and memories behind. The timing of the eventual destruction of the works by fire – in keeping with the traditional process used in controlling heathland - will be determined by the management plan for the zone in which they have been built. Bruce Davies, May 2011. Bruce davies can be contacted via: www.wastelandprocess.wordpress.com


STACK 1


STACK 2


STACK 3


STACK 4


STACK 5


STACK 6


STACK 7


STACK 8

STACK 8


TREE/SHADOW/TREE


BUSHEL OF THORNS


BRACKEN STACK


REMNANT 3


BRASH STACK


DEW CIRCLE


OFF SITE PRESENTATION: FAITH HOUSE


UNHINGED: FELLING HINGES FOUND AT FORESTRY EXTRACTION SITE


SITE MAP: HOLTON LEE


ARTISTS TOOL KIT


ARTISTS TOOL KIT: White hair taken from carcass of poached sika stag


Photographing White Sika deer close to the work never really worked out as I intended. These images were captured hiding behind ‘Bracken Stack’. This experience led me to explore other ways of using an archive that perhaps would normally be rejected due to camera shake and awkward composition. The Triptych ‘Holton Lee Stag’ displayed on the following pages feels are stills from video clips. Presenting the archive in this way feels more relevant and represents a more accurate description of both the Sika deers behaviour and mine.


LIFE CYCLE OF THE HEATH: DEER BONE/BRASH/PINE CONES/SHOT GUN CARTRIDGE/BIRD NEST


FOREGROUND STACK: STACK 6 / FORESTRY WASTE BONFIRES


STACK 3


FOREGROUND: STACK 2


STACK 3


STACK 4


STACK 6


FOREGROUND: STACK 5 / FORESTRY WASTE BONFIRES


STACK 5


STACK 5


STACK 1


STACK 6


STACK 1


FOREGROUND: STACK 1 / FORESTRY WASTE BONFIRES


STACK GROUP FACING NORTH


FOREGROUND: STACK 5


STACK 2 /STACK 3 /STACK4


STACK GROUP FACING SOUTH


STACK 6


STACK 6 / STACK 7


STACK 7 / STACK 6 FACING NORTH


Bruce Davies has an established and dynamic practice that has become notable for the extensive platforms he has created for the presentation of his work and for the formulation of his ideas. His interests in exploring practical applications for contemporary art, visual enquiry and research are prominent in his site specific explorations of contemporary land use. Recognition of the contexts of place play a fundamental part in the success of these often ambitious land based and urban projects that have been staged both across the UK and internationally. He is based in West Cornwall, UK.


In ‘WASTE/LAND/PROCESS’ Bruce Davies presents another way to engage with the landscape by drawing on the historical uses the heath, its flora, fauna and traditional management techniques. This interaction has established a new ephemeral platform for Davies’ work that underlines the connection between the material to be found there, the activities that take place, and the heath itself.

WASTE/LAND/PROCESS  

In ‘WASTE/LAND/PROCESS’ Bruce Davies presents another way to engage with the landscape by drawing on the historical uses the heath, its flor...

WASTE/LAND/PROCESS  

In ‘WASTE/LAND/PROCESS’ Bruce Davies presents another way to engage with the landscape by drawing on the historical uses the heath, its flor...

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