The idea was to design and make seats for a new orchard; on the site of an old one, to coincide with Apple Day 1992. They had initiated the idea of an annual festival celebrating apples for the 21st October two years earlier and wanted to celebrate the life and apple of Richard Cox through a ‘permanent’ seat that would also be a work of art. I designed and made the seats in close collaboration with Common Ground. We made them multi-purpose acting as; seats/platforms/tree-guards and gave them a voice through words stamped into the surface. The site was a piece of ground in Colnebrook in Berkshire near where the first Coxs Apple tree was created. The three seats spelt out COX and were covered with information about the man and his famous apple. I had an incomplete ABC of letter punches that was kindly supplemented free by Edward Prior & Son Ltd ‘for advertising purposes’. I used the punches to write ‘sayings’ about the man and spelled out some of the names given to the apple all over the world: Aranciata di Cox, Cox’s Orangen Reinette, Coxova Renata, Cox’s Orangen Peppin, Cox’s Orange Pepping, Cox’s Orange Pippeling, Coxs Pomeranzen-Pepping,Koksova oranjeva renata, Koksa Pomaranczowa, Orangs de Cozx, Renata Coxa pomaranzowa and Renet Cox portocaliu. This was a time when I used the forge both to make sculpture and utilitarian objects and this project was easily the most complex and was made up of the greatest number of pieces I had ever handled. The flat rings for the seats were rolled in Chichester by JR Fabrications and the planting of new saplings and preparation of the foundations were carried out by the Colne Valley Groundwork Trust. Local schools were involved in the planting and subsequent picking of the apples.
As part of the Centipedes Poem I asked friend and letter cutter to carve the words of the popem into stone using his own sense of style and script. The photograph shows the slab at Isabella plantation in Richmond park before it was sold.
Poets Seat 1994 was a beautiful piece based upon an idea by Jane Fowles who worked with LUC, (Land Use Consultants.) It is located near Pembroke Lodge in Richmond Park and was designed to reflect the meandering River Thames at Kew. It carries some of the text from James Thomsons ‘The Seasons’. ‘So let us trace the Matchless Vale of Thames’. Part funding came from a local lady in exchange for writing: For Ramon:- For here his gentle spirit lingers still.
Historically it is said that the spot was inspirational for the poet and the seat was commissioned as a celebration of his life and poetry. The words Poets Seat are also stamped onto it.
The seat is made up of expertly rolled conic rings to give the curving form an undulation as well. The roll-overs at either end are both safe, comfortable and good aesthetically. The work was finally zinc sprayed and galvanised before installation into a specially landscaped area of granite sets I also made some railings for the site with assistance from Bob Smith of Farringdon, Hampshire.
There are also three seats outside Henry VIII Lodge nearby that are made from wood as well as steel. Well worth a visit as, on a clear day, you can see St Pauls Cathedral through a clearing in the laurel hedge. It was great for me to make something for the park not only because it was a prestigious project one but also because I spent a large portion of my childhood cycling and box-carting with friends there.
The Benches were commissioned by Michael Johnson Arts Administrator of Test Valley Borough council in 2001 and were made to fit in with some old cast iron seats already on site. They had been cast by Taskers, who also made the Bridge over Drovers Lane that leads to Basingstoke. The seats are made out of heavy section mild steel bar and were galvanised prior to installation. One seat is 3 meters long the other curved approx 4 meters long. They are 600 mm wide. Ladies Walk in Andover, follows the line of an ancient trackway where 121 trees were planted in 1863 to celebrate the marriage of Prince Albert to Princess Alexandra of Denmark. The path that is now lined with magnificent trees marks the East West boundary of the town and the seats provide a place where people can rest and observe great views to the South. Some poetry and the Latin names for the different species of trees are stamped into the metalwork. This technique has become an important hallmark on some of the seats/benches that I have made. One of the poems reads: Sitting Quietly, Doing Nothing, Spring Comes, and the Grass Grows by Itself. (From The Way of Zen. Alan Watts) Other words from the council include: Ox Drove. Markway. Ladies Walk. We Have Walked Through Lifetimes To Arrive.
Spring Song was made for my one man show named 'Big' at St Marys church in Southampton in 2000 curated by Southside Arts. The nest for the Origami bird comprised steel confetti in traditional shapes. The Origami was fabricated in my workshop and then galvanised. It refers to the fact that birds were folded for weddings in many countries and linked up to one of the functions of the church.
This was a Memorial Seat made for Pelham while he was still around to enjoy it. Commissioned by his wife with input from his four children to go round a little apple tree in their garden made me think of a line in TS Eliots Poem Little Gedding in his Four Quartets.
‘The voice of the hidden waterfall and the children in the apple-tree Not known, because not looked for But heard, half heard in the stillness between two waves of the sea.’
The steel rings were rolled by Jeffries Millers Rings and cut to fit the structure at my Dockenfield workshop. I always prefer to use rivets both to hold the components together as well as a visual characteristic.
The seat carries the names of the children of the family and a reference to the site where the sand joins the clay near Oakhanger.