An installation by Russell Mills and Ian Walton.
September 30th - October 15th 2006
The location: St Martin's College campus; the triangular plot of land adjoining the Armitt Museum, Ambleside.
Set centrally within a cleared and flat rectangle of land will be an old common or garden shed 9' long x 6' wide x 7'9" high (not a standard, pristine B&Q model but one that has had a life and that has a history), floating above the ground, its external surface entirely clad in gold leaf. Visible through the shed's one side window, will be a single, bare, glowing light bulb, slowly pulsing from low to full luminosity over extremely long periods, suggesting a life force, a creative energy at work.
In the 1940's the site was used for garden allotments. During his 3 years in Ambleside (1945-48), the town's most famous artist, the radical German exile Kurt Schwitters, used to visit Mr Bickerstaff, a local teacher who had an allotment on the site. At present the site is overgrown with shrubs. A temporarily erected shed would serve as a reminder of a part of Ambleside's history.
Head As a symbol the head is rich in metaphoric, allegorical and religious meanings, amongst the manifold interpretations it is regarded, with the heart, as the chief member of the body, the seat of life-force and the soul and its power; it denotes wisdom; mind; control; rule. The head is the seat of both intelligence and folly and is the first object of both honour and dishonour: the crown of glory and wreath of victory are placed on the head, but so are the ashes of mourning and penitence, the fool's cap and 'coals of fire'.
Shed for a head. Humble, improvised and practical architecture in which dreams are dreamt and made real. The archetypal English retreat; a meditative space; a place of solitude. Icons of sustainability. Symbolic of a particular breed of independent, visionary and creative thinker also of hope, defiance and resilience. Laboratory of the resourceful. Home to the marginal and maverick, to inventors and innovators who pursue ideals despite the state¹s and industry¹s lack of faith and/or financial backing. Intriguing and strangely magnetic, sheds allow us to revisit our childhood reveries of secret hideaways, to enter our own private world; to commune with nature and our own selves.
Shed: part with, let fall off (tree sheds leaves, stag sheds horns, snake sheds skin, bather sheds clothes); reduce (electrical powerload by disconnection etc.; drop (- tears, weep; - one¹s blood, be wounded or killed for one¹s country etc.; cause (blood) to flow by injury; dispense, diffuse, spread. Shed: one-storeyed building for storing goods or vehicles or keeping cattle etc., or for use as workshop etc., and consisting of roof with some or all or no sides open. Shed: English has two distinct words shed. The verb (OE) originally meant Œdivide, separate, split¹; a 14th century religious poem paraphrased Genesis with Œthe sun to shed the day from the night¹; and the modern range of senses, Œgive off, drop¹, did not begin to emerge until the Middle English period. It goes back to to a prehistoric Germanic 'skiathan', which produced German and Dutch stained Œseparate¹. This was derived from the base 'skaith' Œdivide, split¹, source also of English 'ski' and probably 'sheath'. Shed Œ hut¹ may be an alternative of the Anglo Saxon 'scead' or shade, a place of partial darkness and obscurity, the realm of the hermit or the wise man and the store-houses for weapons and symbolic capital. (but the shed of watershed is of course a noun use of the verb shed.
The installation will be part of the 3rd Annual FRED artist-led events which will be located throughout the county between 30th September through to 15th October. FRED is organised by Steve Messam of the Fold Gallery of Kirkby Stephen. "Fold is a not for profit organisation that seeks to provide and promote access to innovative contemporary art in rural environments. Fold is run by artists for artists and the communities they live and work in." In 2005 between 1st and 16th October 20th the second FRED event involved over 80 artists who created site-specific works in 72 locations across the length and breadth of Cumbria making FRED one of the biggest artist led events in the UK and Europe's largest festival of site-specific art". Last year it is estimated that the FRED installations attracted upwards of 1.5 million people. For more information on Fold and FRED see: - www.foldgallery.co.uk and www.fredsblog.co.uk