The story of Ecos

Ecos is a sculpture about us and nature, telling the 5000 year story of how our changing relationship with nature has led to today’s ecological and climate crises, and how re-evaluating that relationship holds the key to the future; for us and our planet.  

Ecos: Gr. Οίκος, house, home. Root of the word, ecology. 

Ecos takes its form from a neolithic stone axe head; the tool used by our ancient ancestors to cut back the wilderness and create the first settlements.  It was the first time we humans had a sense of a place that was home, but it was a home separate from nature.

Over the last 5000 years the idea that we can live independently from nature has turned living landscapes into sterile cityscapes and ultimately led to today’s ecological and climate crises.  Ecos wears that history like a cloak, but it also looks to the future.  Overlooking the globe-like form of a cracked and mended neolithic cooking pot, Ecos looks to a time when, with a new sense of our true place in the world as part of nature, we can restore and mend our shared planet home.

Ecos is made from unglazed stoneware to be colonised over time by nature and was made for the annual exhibition of contemporary sculpture at Sone Lane Gardens in Devon.

I made videos of the whole making process – here they are

The seed of an idea

Aerial images of prehistoric sites, a neolithic axe head, and the chance to enter a competition for contemporary abstract sculpture coincide to sow the seed of an idea.

A 5000 year story

I’ve been fascinated by our relationship with nature since way back in my environment and wildlife radio days.  Now I see how that relationship ties together the time of the stone axes with today’s climate and ecological crises and creates a powerful story for Ecos to tell.

Challenges ahead

I’ve never worked this large before and the size, weight and nature of clay bring huge challenges.  That and the fact that I’ve got less than 3 months to make it!

Work underway

2 weeks of hard work sees the axe form getting close to my studio ceiling.  Here’s that fortnight condensed into 3 minutes.

Rethink

Advice from a very experienced maker leads to a major rethink.

The Greek god that never was

The name, Ecos, helps tie together my ideas, give the sculpture an unexpected identity, and suggest a way forward with its surface.

Turning to Hepworth for help

Unable to settle on the surface texture that feels right I turn to my hero, Barbara Hepworth, and the landscapes that inspired her.

Crisis and epiphany

Why do I have to go through the stressy, struggling bit before everything comes together?

Made

The build is complete.  The surface is finished.  Now I can get the first sense of how Ecos might look once fired and released into the wild.

A journey

Ecos is too big to fire in my kiln even cut into pieces, so I have to drive it to Bristol before it gets so dry and brittle that it could crack on the journey. 

Into the fire

3 weeks later and the pieces of Ecos are dry enough to start firing.  They are heavy and fragile; a nerve-wracking combination.

Home coming

Installation day.  With all 5 sections of the sculpture successfully fired I can finally assemble Ecos at the Stone Lane Sculpture Garden in Devon – the place that inspired it and that it was built for.

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