HENI Talks x ARTiculation: Peter Randall-Page, ‘Fructus’
Lucy Miller and Oliver Garland — alumni of the ARTiculation Prize — reflect on Peter Randall-Page’s sculpture Fructus (2009), exploring how the work complements, juxtaposes and transforms the natural landscape in which it is placed.
This film is the first in a collaborative series with ARTiculation celebrating ‘Young Voices’ engaging with art. ARTiculation is the Roche Court Educational Trust’s national and international public speaking initiative, championing the appreciation and discussion of art. It enables a wide range of students aged between 14 and 23 to develop their confidence and ability to express their opinions, thoughts and reactions to the visual world.
Lucy Miller (LM): Fructus industriales — crops produced by labour on the part of man.
From afar I see this, I see concrete, slate grey, a skyscraper among soft trees, I see coldness. An emblem of modernity among nature. But I also see a giant pinecone, fallen and burrowed into the ground, or the butt of an alien insect, suspended for a moment but filled with the potential to dig deeper into the ground. I feel unsettled.
Oliver Garland (OG): I see something with a vague sense of familiarity, but an apprehensiveness of the unknown. What is it that sits so imposingly before me, so large and so bold? I can’t quite pinpoint its abstracted form; it’s too abstract to say for certain what it is, but not abstract enough that one feels entirely disconnected or disinterested by it. I feel in some way restrained by this unknowingness.
LM: This unknowing becomes all the more unsettling for me when considering its place in a park, because for me parks are nostalgic. Family walks amongst green havens, picnics overlooking carefully crafted displays of floristry, a place of peace, rejuvenation and clarity. But Fructus changes this whole landscape for me. The coldness and the vague mimicry of nature, but not quite being nature itself. And the natural forms it does mimic feel unsettling to me. They make it feel like a tense and unwelcoming space because I see pustules, beehives, barnacles. This uncertain mimicry paired with the sculptures ginormous size of the sculpture as well as the juxtaposing colours, creates a distortion of place for me. I no longer feel the park holds a nostalgic sentimentality, it feels like a cold, tense space. The golden spell of the park being transformed makes me question what do I find intrinsically beautiful about nature? Is it the shapes and the forms themselves? Or is it all just a misguided sense of nostalgic sentimentality?
OG: The cool, resistant grey juxtaposing the soft greens and browns of its situation is so appealing to my senses. I know what it’s like to touch. I know how it feels. Hard. Resistant. Cold. And yet I haven’t touched it. I haven’t been that close to it yet. Why is this, I ask? Why am I drawn so strongly to something that’s form I don’t fully recognise or understand yet?
LM: While foreign from afar, up close it is evident Fructus is not just a manmade imposition on the natural landscape: it is nature itself.
OG: It is almost ironic. The creation of this limestone was formed through natural processes over millions of years but was interrupted by man. By a sculptor. Its true form carved out and liberated at last. Yet it appears as though it could have been untouched. From close up we can see the rock in its raw beauty — pure imperfections within the rock’s surface are visible.
LM: Randall-Page, in carving through the layers of rock, has unlocked the life that resides within the stone. The natural patterns travel across the curves, in turn giving them energy and liberating the sense of life that brought them into being.
OG: Its natural forms — the lobe and bulbous-like shapes — are so distinctive and recognisable. These lobes appear taut, becoming increasingly pendulous and bodily closer to the ground. We only have to look around elsewhere in nature to suddenly see these shapes again and again.
LM: In considering it a natural form I can’t help but think the park is the perfect place for Fructus to belong. There is something beautiful about the fact that while it appears so imposing and large in the space of the park, it is an intrinsically weak structure made from limestone, meaning it will weather. As such it is a never-ending process of sculpture. The elements will come down in the park and the sculpture will continue to change and be weathered down. And in this, it is beautiful, because it finally fits with the rest of the nature around it. With time it will decay.
OG: As is the consequence of time, this piece will continue to evolve, new forms divulging, but immortal, long will this sculpture outlast man, a testament of time and the wonders of the natural world. Perhaps we should consider again then the positioning of this piece. The shapes of it. The form of it. After revealing that it is rooted in the form of botanical study, on the fecundity and sensuality of ripened fruit, I feel liberated now knowing what this piece represents. No longer do we feel uneasy or unsure by it, but we experience it in a different light. For what it really is. Suddenly its context makes sense as if this is how a ripened piece of fruit has fallen from a tree. Right here. Completely naturally. And this is where it will continue to evolve and transform.
Fructus naturales – crops produced without the substantial assistance of man.
Peter Randall-Page, Fructus, 2009 © Peter Randall-Page, courtesy New Art Centre, Roche Court Sculpture Park
With thanks to
New Art Centre, Roche Court Sculpture Park
Timothy Revell, ARTiculation
Josepha Sanna, ARTiculation
The Roche Court Educational Trust
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