Tall Timbers

It took decades to build the pyramids…but only days, we hope, to erect this work.  Folly, by Tony Davis arrived today at Eden Gardens from where it has been on exhibition at Sculpture By The Sea.  The three pieces suggest it will be as easy as one, two, three, but the truth of the matter may be a different story, with a crane, the installation kit and a 9 metre plus work arriving like a giant meccano set.  It now has to settle into its new home next to the poplar forest at Eden Gardens.

The work questions the vagaries of what we build and the act of replacing sustainable native forests with plantations.  It is fitting therefore that in is sited in a small formal area with Eden’s small forest.  Folly explores human psyche and man’s relationships with nature and environment in the past and present.

Simon Ainsworth, who purchased the Folly, said “It really was a perfect fit for the bed. I have been looking for a sculpture for ages for that specific spot, like years ages, and the nature of the work, being timber, the message on sustainable and non-sustainability and the size of the work and scale fits Eden.”

This triumphant timber obelisk is crafted from jarrah, corten steel, mild steel and radiata pine, and will rise up through the Populus simonii in a small courtyard alongside these trees.  It took the best part of 3 months for Davis to construct once the concept and materials where all in place.

Luckily for the team at Eden, seen above digging the footings, we’re hoping to lure Yuri Humeniuk to be part of the installation team …

BACKGROUND: The Folly story in brief, by Tony Davis

I live on the mid /central south west of Western Australia, roughly where the Jarrah and Marri native forests become farmlands. These forests of jarrah have been heavily logged over the past 120/160 years or so, in the early years for export of jarrah sleepers and heavy construction sections for bridges etc. Most of this went to England , India and New Zealand for railway construction in “the colonies”.

Some furniture makers in London particularly recognised the excellent qualities of the timber and used it for their wares …. it was then known as Swan River Mahogany” and is quite collectable by those few people who are aware of what it actually is.  The railway sleepers lasted well, and even the late famous British sculptor, Sir Anthony Caro, used some salvaged Jarrah sleepers in some of his most recent work, including his much applauded “The Last Judgement”.

Apart from being clear-felled to make way for farmland in the south west, the Jarrah was also the main source for building lumber, fence posts and, of course, furniture. Most of the old growth forests are gone and regrowth forests, largely unmanaged/unthinned, bear little resemblance to the original forests of huge trees that one could drive a horse and cart through.

Alarmingly, in more recent times, the remnant forests have been clear-felled to make way for faster growing, commercial exotic species such as pine plantations, sources of far inferior timber !!!! This practice is regarded as being ecological vandalism, with the natural order destroyed. The folly of this practice being referenced in this sculpture; here I have sardonically created a structure made of the displaced jarrah, housing and protecting the inferior (timber) pine tree as a symbol of the plantations.

The SECOND reference to “ Folly “ is architectonic; the practice of creating buildings which are pretty well just ostentatious, without being practical, but to which we are drawn ostensibly, and where form does not necessarily follow function. Here I have indulged the question of “why” with the answer “ …. because I can !” However, unlike the example of grotesque building follies in places like Dubaii, I have stuck to my own vernacular, which is somewhat rustic and earthy and true to the nature of the medium. In other words, I have purposefully sought to create something which I hope is Australian in flavour.

Ironically, I have sourced the jarrah from a local timber mill which is contracted to cut railway sleepers. Fortunately for me, the miller is sensitive to his product ….. when he identifies good logs, he mills it into useable lumber for value adding applications, despite the fact that there has ( too late !?!? ) been a restriction placed on the use of jarrah for building timber.


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