"Wilderness the Dance"

at Kemyel Crease Nature Reserve

Update on January 9th 2004

Changes happen all the time to sculpture made from natural materials as the weather changes and the biodegrading of materials take place. Today the piece has changed a lot since the launch in October 2003 due to the rain and autumn winds. The canopy of leaves has fallen. The path throughout Kemyel is very muddy, and the sense of moving through doorways and into new spaces which open out as another experience has been changed to some extent. The springs that rise out of the hillside have made streams across the path and sometimes water runs along it, make walking difficult.

However, new and inspiring qualities have also been revealed. The sticks that were pushed into the ground to make basket pieces in the garden area have sprouted. And on the queen form of the King and Queen gateway a crop of frilly white fungi has spread from the base half way up, giving a soft living quality to the piece, maybe even a gown for the bride. It is interesting to note how the fungus "swallows" the ivy leaves at the base.

The path side shrine in pale green which attracted the harvest of Chestnut leaves in a pool of warm brown chestnut colours in the autumn has now become a true shrine as imagined with water flowing through. It certainly has a new life, and has great presence.

The project has always been interactive on many levels - the way it was made, the people involved, the people who passed through. And so it has been a delight to see the way people respond to the piece. One of the seed forms in the garden area which was woven in privet has had a seed head of a hydrangea carefully placed inside. I have to thank whoever did that for their understanding of the piece and sensitivity with which they added to it. Other people have put stones in the basket pieces, added leaves to the bramble root sculptures at the Mousehole end of Kemyel, and added their own creations. There is an active sense of engagement with the piece.

It is possible, however, to lose sight of the simple nature of what has been done, and some people bring their own agendas. Notice boards are a prize target for graffiti, and one or two comments have been left there. Some make the point that the piece shouldn't be there, as "nature should be left to nature". If the piece were an attempt to dominate a beautiful natural environment with inappropriate sculpture, or to use the reserve as an outdoor gallery to show sculpture in, then I think I would agree with them. In fact it sets out to respond to nature in the spirit of appreciation and wonder, not as a confrontation. It is also quite subtle, as can be witnessed by the way some people walk through without even noticing the work! There are clearly contrasting attitudes to this, as others have also strongly expressed their opinions in favour of the piece on the same boards. Many people have expressed their appreciation directly and indirectly to me on the project, and there seems to have been a warm welcome to it.

During the construction of the piece I have had people comment on how they found themselves feeling for the shapes and forms in the trees around the piece as a result of seeing the sculptural forms, and others who have felt Kemyel as a magical place, in a way they hadn't felt before. Amusingly enough the only criticism I witnessed was when a walker said "Why put sculpture in here? I mean. Look at that beautiful tree! It is a sculpture in itself!" It was a fallen tree with an ivy crown that Mic Talbot and I cut and shaped before putting it up near to the inverted bramble roots precisely for this reason! So apparent criticism becomes a clear compliment.


One man just walked through the carved earth tunnel surrounded by privet at the Lamorna end of Kemyel with his arms outstretched as though feeling the air and quality of its space - no words, no issues, no beliefs... just an enjoyable experience. Such a tribute touches the heart of why I made the piece.

I have taken a few parties to Kemyel for guided visits, and look forward to taking more. There have also been parties who wanted to record my thoughts on the project on tape, and of course, many people take photographs of the work.

As the season changes to spring it will be exciting to see new developments in the piece.


( Visits to Kemyel with the artist or lectures on the project can be arranged. Please contact me on 01736 364122 or email info@middlemissART.com)