The trail takes about 45 minutes to walk – but allow more time for wildlife and sculpture sightings!
The wild flowers are gorgeous (orchids just coming) and the warblers are still filling the reed beds with song. Please ask for a map and sculpture notes inside the RSPB centre, where there are also more sculptures and cards.
During the next two weeks Sarah will be there on Fridays, Saturdays & Sundays from midday to 4pm, working on The Radipole Stone.
Thanks to Geoffrey Thomas and Tony Taylor for some of the photos, and to ELizabeth Thomas for all the prose quotes.
And so I have chipped these words, chiselled, polished and honed my prose as I have tried to match the sculptor’s art – to interpret without destroying, to imagine without becoming over-fanciful.
I walked on to the North hide to find the sculpture situated the farthest from the Centre – a puffin chiselled from Portland stone. …. tucking its head shyly downwards as though hiding its amazing bill from prying eyes.
This puffin shelters in a corner, the corner itself a beautiful piece of roache stone. For me, this piece is gentle and quiet, inviting introspection, a looking within to our connection with earth’s creatures.
Then I saw a raven’s wing raised in soaring flight – a sculpture entitled ‘Wedge’ which indeed it was – a wedge of cedar of Lebanon but holding out the possibility to be so many other things. The charred surface felt as warm to my touch as dying embers, catching and absorbing the gentle heat of the setting sun.
This is the wedge that was removed from one side of the main trunk prior to sawing through from the other side. The cut sides come together in a sharp edge, which, angled into the sky, is dramatic and energetic. The broader outside wavy edge contrasts with this and has been treated to maintain the wonderful colour patterns, also differentiating from the charred surfaces. Balanced on the fence post, the wedge floats amongst the reeds pointing to the heavens, moving the eye and the energy away and into the richness and variety of nature.
A few yards further down the path I found ‘Ring’, a form created from English walnut with its centre a window to the marshes, concentrating greenness and growth as if seen through a telescope.
The rotting centre created naturally beautiful shapes, introducing the space within, and allowing the formation of a ring. A universal symbol of wholeness, the ring has been charred using a blowtorch, resulting in wonderful radial cracks and a mosaic texture. The edges have been treated to maintain the colour patterns underneath the bark, and are strongly distinct from the charred surface. In association with Wedge, the effect of each simple shape becomes more apparent.
Amongst the whispering reeds stood a piece of ash tree split in three to reveal dark cavities where bees had once made their home. Like a coven of witches, the three huddled in a semi-circle – dead wood brought alive by the sculptor’s art.
If you look closely at the highest segment, you can see the channels where the bees used to go in and out of the tree, a multi-entranced home. The big saw marks in the bark at the top are those of the chainsaws that felled the tree. The stepped rise in height suggests a kind of honouring, a raising to the heavens. … my homage to the magic of tree and bee.
…a Cetti’s warbler flung its liquid notes across the reed-bed where, poised above still waters, I came across Stonespirit, the enigmatic form of another petroglyph. I saw a face as wise and old as the rock from which it had been hewn, a face like an ancient Egyptian’s, mysterious, other-worldly.
When I saw this stone, I wanted to balance it upright, to incorporate the drill marks left from the quarrying that run down one side, and to work with the eye I had seen in the upper centre. I wanted to leave the natural surfaces that were revealed as it split and fractured on removal from the rock bed and saw the light of day for the first time for 150 million years.