Nature & Art Dec 1, 2017 15:15:18 GMT -1
Post by Heron on Dec 1, 2017 15:15:18 GMT -1
A while back I heard that someone was thinking of creating a sculpture on a beach near me at Borth where the remnants of a forest lie beneath the sands and where tree stumps and stretches of forest floor (now peat) are exposed to various extents depending on weather conditions and the tides. The sculpture is intended to commemorate the forest and be an artwork in its own right like similar statues created by Anthony Gormley elsewhere. My initial reaction to the idea was positive as such things have a devotional aspect to them, even where this is not a specific intention of the artist. This beach is significant for me, and I know for others here, because of its legendary associations with the lost realm of Cantre’r Gwaelod and with Gwyddno Garanhir.
So I awaited further news. This arrived recently with an e-mail inviting me to sign a petition to oppose the project. The originators of the petition say that such a statue (which is apparently to be made of metal) is out of keeping with the natural environment of the beach and the submerged forest. Other reasons given include “safety issues for bathers, surfers, kite surfers, sailors and other water craft” and that “the installation works would involve significant and unwarranted damage to the submerged forest, and disruption of the beach due to the use of heavy machinery”. I think these other reasons have been added for the sake of a comprehensiveness and the main objection is that such a statue doesn’t belong there. But the beach already has several human-made constructions such as wooden groynes, marker posts and flood-defence mounds in addition to the artificial reef constructed recently further out, also as part of the flood defences. These latter works involved diggers and other heavy vehicles working on the beach continually for about 18 months. So what would be needed to put up a statue should pale into insignificance by comparison.
And yet, I do sympathise with the point made by the objectors that natural environments should be protected and I’m aware that if the project was for something I considered more frivolous, or to commemorate something or someone I didn’t approve of, I would have signed the petition. It is likely that the objectors think the proposed statue is frivolous. It certainly would be a human imposition on the beach but it seems to me that such expressions of empathy with natural objects or environments, shaped in human terms, are, as I said above, commensurate with our desire to celebrate the significance of landscapes or natural objects and are in their own way devotional activities.
So I haven’t signed the petition, though I will keep an eye on developing proposals to see if the dangers of damage to the sunken forest might actually be an issue. But I want to raise here the more general question of the balance we need to achieve between respect for the landscape and our participation in shaping it in a devotional way as part of our human presence within it.
What do people think?