At Wicken Fen in Cambridgeshire a new artwork offers those passing by a chance to relax and contemplate the Fens from within its walls.
The sculptural artwork, entitled MOTHER…, was created by artists Heather Peak and Ivan Morison of Studio Morison.
It is designed to mimic the haystacks that could once be seen in fields across Britain. It was inspired by descriptions in Richard Mabey’s book Nature Cure, in which he recovers from severe depression by walking, watching and writing about the beautiful and unexplored landscapes in the East of England.
“The ellipsis after MOTHER… suggests the omission of a second word – to be added by the viewer,” explains artist Ivan Morison.
He gives his own examples: “MOTHER EARTH connects to ideas of the natural world – its supporting qualities – but also our own responsibilities and personal connections to it.
“MOTHERLAND connects us to the place we belong, within this landscape, within a community, within a country.
“MOTHERSHIP makes us think of the sculpture as a vessel that might take us places. This could be on an imaginary journey around the solar system, or it could be a journey connecting the past with an imagined future – making the work a time machine, of sorts. Or it could be a journey within our own minds – a rehabilitative journey, from upset to calm.”
Morison continues: “The sculpture offers a space to reflect on troubling thoughts, as well as an opportunity to perhaps still the mind for a while – by focusing on the simple material qualities of the work and the changing nature of the landscape that surrounds it.”
The timber used to build the sculpture was felled from the artists’ own forest and milled by the pair at their workshop. The walls and roof are made from local straw, with the thatching executed in the traditional style by a master thatcher whose first job as an apprentice was to thatch a haystack – or hayrick – at Wicken Fen.
The work was commissioned by the Cambridgeshire-based Wysing Arts Centre, as part of a region-wide arts commissioning programme, New Geographies, and is supported by Arts Council England and the National Trust.