the Lost Valley diary...



    In 2010 The Lost Gardens of Heligan invited Cornish sculptor, James Eddy, to become Artist in Residence for a year, with a view to producing a range of ideas for a piece of environmental sculpture to celebrate 21 years since discovery of The Lost Gardens.

      His brief was to conceive works that reflected “the essence and soul of Heligan”, working with the themes of “Lost and Found” and “Growth and Decay”. The proposal that we selected from James’s significant collection of investigative work has resulted in the creation of his Charcoal Sculpture, completed in October 2011 and now, in spring 2013, settling well into the Lost Valley landscape.

     The overall shape of the form sweeps upwards, as if towards the light in growth, while its construction seems designed for slippage, at the same time descending back to the earth in decay. The location was specifically chosen adjacent to a large tree stump, all that remains from an enormous oak that was lost in a freak storm a few years ago.

     This sculpture also represents the role of fire in nature and community and celebrates the tradition of charcoal burning here in Lost Valley over many centuries. It was created entirely by hand, using traditional skills and wood harvested from the estate. Each piece took on a life of its own, splitting, bending and burning in its own way; combined, they give the final sculpture its own unique organic energy. This is a permanent installation, and was intended to change over time as it gradually decays.

     After 18 months the structure remains strong and commanding in the view. However, it is increasingly naturalising, as some of the timbers start to crumble, taking on mosses, lichens and fungi, and creatures start to make their homes within. New life comes from old – another whole cycle begins. This speaks of the essence of Heligan. Man plays his part, in his craft, but we will leave nature to have the last word.

                                                                                                     Candy Smit

                                                                                                               April 2013