Studio In The Woods 2011
Last weekend – while muggles all over the land flocked to cinemas to see the final Harry Potter film – on a little Isle (of Wight) a short swim away, gathered 60 magical architecture creatures for their annual timber-play ritual
Legend tells that every year (since 2006) these construction-keen beings are summoned to a secret, countryside location (this year New Barn Farm, Isle of Wight) by a great organising energy (this year and last the Isle of Wight Architecture Centre, previously Mitchell Taylor Workshop) for an intense weekend of constructing and construing.
When first they gather, the creatures pitch little sleeping cocoons in a makeshift city heralded this year by a cluster of beautiful, feathered bathrooms that appeared through the casting of a spell by six Toilet Scholars (led by Matthew Dalziel and Adam Smith) in the days running up to the grand arrival. The creatures then divide up and this year five wonderfully diverse teams emerged: of creatures large and small, star-gazing and earth - mulling, expressive and furtive. Each company of creatures roams the landscape in search of sites suiting their various forms and in them compose harmonious structures with timber cut by a Bear (Kevin “Bear” Chatley).
If you go down to the woods today you will first discover the work of the Abstract Expressionist creatures (led by Piers Taylor and Meredith Bowles) who expressed the enthusiasm of the weekend’s venture through a craftily logical dance. With an energetic jig they magically transformed a humble pencil scribble into a long - spanning, hovering nest that invites all the other creatures to join the lob, lift and jump.
As you move along the valley you will be imperceptibly drawn uphill, attracted by two mystical hovering seats. The first seat will bring you to the edifice of the Elves (led by Erect Architecture) who uncovered a miniature bowl populated by miniature aromatic trees and precious flints. Here the situationist Elves made a very slightly asymmetrical seat-saw with a single seat for gazing out at the large valley alone balanced by a huddle of seats for snuggling together with folded wings in the little valley.
The second mystical hovering seat was made by the Levellers (led by Toby Lewis) who have the power to create a perfectly level plane in any wrinkled or wonky place. This time they made a suspended platform that zigs and zags between the coarse shrubbery and lifts the passenger above the nettles and thistles and wasps to create a sparkling apparition of a peaceful building fragment.
If you then roll back down the hill and with charged momentum propel yourself up the opposite slope, you will arrive at a place to rest. Manifested by the Friendly Cosmologists (led by Gianni Bostford and Kate Darby), this device for napping is an enclosure for a little bit of the universe. By speaking to the sun and the moon, the Friendly Cosmologists used windows and string to map and then cradle a space for celestial and corporeal bodies to rest on the hillside.
Properly energised, you will then feel a pull to follow in giant’s footsteps up to the top of the tallest hill. Built by Giants (led by Studio Weave) – apparently in the nude – is the Landscope, a foreshortening, telescopic structure that is infinitely large from the front and infinitely long from the side so allowing giants and smaller creatures to converse eye to eye while sheltering from the wind and enjoying the view back over the water they must all now cross to return to their ordinary lives.
Just before their inevitable return, the architecture creatures were visited by the Sorcerer Peter (Clegg) and the Wizard Ted (Cullinan) who has the rare ability to see the true identities of the creatures (here described) and the true importance of their play.
All photogrpahs by Ioana Marinescu