In my last post we looked at what we discovered was going on in the old Walled Garden at Attinham Park and I finished just as we left the walled garden behind and began wandering around the woodlands.
So here is the second part of our Attingham Park autumn adventure.
When taking a wander along the woodland trails at our local National Trust property, Attingham Park, we were amazed to come across this little art installation close to the soft surfaced woodchip path. Woodlands are like the seashore as they often seem to bring out creativity in people, perhaps even a return to making things which was last enjoyed in childhood. At the sea people often pile up pebbles to make simple sculptures, collect together mixed objects from the surf line and carefully put them together. This simple little piece sits beautifully in its surroundings and stopped many people walking by to have a closer look. No-one touched it, but simply looked, smiled, made a comment to their companions and walked on. It is a beautiful piece of sculpture, made anonymously and left for others to enjoy.
We wandered on into the woods along winding paths beneath towering trees above while at our feet the orange, yellows and reds of fallen leaves. Fallen leaves always bring the children out in Jude and I and we kicked our feet through them, enjoying the sounds and woody aromas.
The woodsmen who had been working on autumnal maintenance work left behind them little blocks and wedges of wood. Following on from the piece of found object sculpture we discovered and enjoyed earlier we both started to follow their initiative and got creative. The stumps left behind gave us ready-made plinths to work on.
We collected bits and pieces of wood left by the woodsman or by Mother Nature and made various compositions on top of our wooden stump plinths. We couldn’t stop smiling as we played with the wood and loved the wonderful sweet aroma of fresh cut wood and leafmould. An outdoor studio! What a treat!
As we completed each set we wandered on. Looking back through the trees we spotted other walkers stopping and taking photos of what we had left for them to enjoy, just as we had when we found that piece close to the walled garden.
Moving further into the woodland the woodsmen had left areas cleared for coppicing, leaving multi-stemmed trees cut low to encourage regrowth. They reminded me of sculpture by Barbara Hepworth which are exhibited among trees at the Yorkshire Sculpture Park.
I found slithers, slices and wedges of freshly cut wood and placed them among the stumps.
Logs had been piled up to create habitats for wildlife winding wooden walls through the trees. The aroma here was of rotting wood, dampness and fungi.
A huge old tree trunk felled years ago and left to rot providing shelter, food and homes for wildlife, had been sculpted by the weather, rain, wind, ice and snow, worked upon by insects, invertebrates and fungi to present us with a beautiful softly carved piece of Mother Nature’s sculpture.
We loved finding this nest box beautifully and thoughtfully positioned on top of a rotting tree stump. We shall watch this in the spring to see if any birds like it as much as we did.
As we left the woodland we moved into the deer park where trees were much further apart separated by tracts of bright green grass. Here fallen branches, trunks and brash had been left for children to make dens from. Another form of sculpture created by youngsters using wood from the surrounding trees. The dens had their own beauty and naivety. Each time we visit Attingham these dens change, new ones appear, the oldest begin to fall apart and some just seem to get bigger and bigger. Well done to the National Trust for encouraging such creativity for the visiting youngsters and for affording them the opportunity to get in touch with nature.
I hope you have enjoyed sharing our spell of creativity in the woodlands at Attingham Park. When we next visit it will be interesting to see if any of our pieces remain intact after the winter storms and to discover how the children’s dens have been transformed by nature or by other children.