Materials: Birch Bark, Willow and Steel
Location: Darmstadt, Germany
The German biologist and philosopher Ernst Haeckel (1834-1919) first advocated the concept of a biotope – an area where life lives, a biological community. His beautiful lithographic plates in his book ‘Kunstformen der Natur’ show a multitude of microscopic life forms with astonishing clarity. By magnifying these natural forms, too small to see with the naked eye, Haeckel’s’ illustrations help emphasise our fragile and complex relationship to all living things.
Inspired by modern botanical photographs of Wild Bee Pollen, taken with a scanning electron microscope at Darmstadts University, I wanted to communicate this same sense of awe and wonder. I wanted to record and reveal the complex, and fragile structural characteristics of wild bee pollen as a symbol of Darmstadt’s varied and fascinating flora and fauna and reflect on the symbiotic relationship between the ‘site and the materials’.
The sculptures form, size and materials, is dictated by its surroundings, for example the elevation of the land, the spacing of the trees and the quality of the light. The tough outer shell is made from Birch bark collected from the forest floor. Willow and steel was used to create the structural framework. A circular, woven, willow seat, wraps around the internal wall.
This work is an interactive sculptural ‘Habitat’. A communal ‘Life Place’ or ‘Biotope’ (bios = ‘life‘ and topos = ‘place‘) that allows the viewer/s to wander inside and around the ‘Sculptural Form’. This is a ‘place’ of contemplation or ‘gathering space’, lit by the dappled light of the forest, where one can rest within its shelter before moving on.