On the 23rd April I had a meeting with Nick Farthing at The Hospice in the Weald after he had emailed me regarding the potential commission for a sculpture at the hospice.
Having seen images on my website of the Bud sculpture I had made for Borde Hill Gardens, Nick wondered whether I might be interested in making a sculpture of a 'Memory Tree' for the hospice . Nick, who is the Income Generator Director, had been discussing with colleagues the possibility of commissioning a memory tree sculpture to be placed in the garden at the Hospice in Pembury. He explained that the idea was for it to be a tree on which people could hang leaves engraved with the names of their loved ones. They had seen a similar idea at Greenwich and Bexley Hospice, who already had something similar, and sent me a link to the image on their website.
Nick wondered whether the idea of a memory tree might be a 'good fit with my work', and I agreed to meet him to discuss the commission, to visit the hospice, to see potential sites for the sculpture and to discuss their requirements.
Since quite early in my teaching career, when I arranged for a fund-raiser working for another local hospice to visit the school and talk with students about the work of the hospice, I have considered hospices to be invaluable in the work they do. However, Nick's email came at a time that provided me with an opportunity to do something for them, having had to say farewell at the funeral of my wonderful, talented, artistic mother-in-law, who died of cancer just a few weeks earlier.
As you can imagine, I was more than delighted to get Nick's email. Serendipity indeed! It allowed me to do something that I love, for a cause that I care about, to the memory of someone I loved and which I know would be something that my whole family would want to celebrate and add to. We are already looking forward to fixing a leaf onto the memory tree sculpture engraved with Pam's name and with a message from us all.
I explained my preference for a more sculptural form, so that it should look attractive, even when there are not any 'memory leaves' in place. I also explained the use of materials, processes and installation and how each would impact upon the eventual cost of the work, whilst informing Nick and Rachael that I would not be expecting any fee for the designing and making of the sculpture and that I would only be looking for the cost of materials and work by others to be covered. Nick was very surprised and quick to thank me but I explained that I could not, in all conscience, take money from a hospice, whose funds were needed for those they care for, or for something that would provide families the means to express their feelings for those they have lost.
I decided to generate several different ideas to present to the hospice, as the possibilities made available by the site suggested to me that the form the sculpture might take could be very different, depending upon where it might be situated and I did not want to tie them down at this stage. In the early stages of drawing and model making, I think it is important to allow the commissioning client to have the time to thoroughly consider all options, rather than narrowing them down. Likewise, it is necessary to make them feel comfortable with the notion that they make suggestions for alterations and additions to the brief at this early stage, should they feel it necessary. My thanks go to Zoli and Mariah at Exhibit Printing in Brighton for their help with the laser cutting of the designs for the models and the creation of Vector drawings for the chosen design to be cut in water jet cut Corten steel.
A few of the initial drawings were made to show the client some of the possibilities followed by models which were finished on Saturday19th May, a day I lost another dear friend to Cancer and almost a month after Nick's initial contact. Images can be seen in my blog; simply sign up to read the blog and receive updates.
Click on the button to take a look at the model proposals and site representations for the memory tree screen to be installed at the hospice.