‘This land is prone to scaring’
Like much of the local area in the Lake District, Cylinders Estate has recently suffered significant storm damage. Many trees were uprooted overnight and torn out of the ground; enormous trunks snapped like spindly twigs.
Due to a number of contributing factors, larch trees in the area have become diseased and the local council insisted that all infected trees should be cut down. About 100 years ago, the land was cleared for industrial activity and the production of gunpowder, meaning that across this area countless trees were cut down for fuel. Land was cleared for cattle and sheep farming, leaving the earth exposed and vulnerable. Without the elder trees providing stable rooting and resilience to disease for younger trees, the nutrients in the soil have been altered, resulting in both the trees and earth becoming increasingly vulnerable. Over time, soil degradation caused by agricultural activity, bare landscapes and the spraying of fertilisers to omit unwanted native plants has led to weakened soil systems and flooding. Tree roots hold these particles together, and now they are left clinging on.
WYRM considers how inorganic materials alter the physical properties of our future geology. In a similar vein to the Earthworm, WYRM digests this detritus, reclaiming, regurgitating and renewing the landscape.
Robertson, like Schwitters has taken this work with her on a journey to different locations, rebuilding and absorbing residue materials as she re-imagines this megalithic construction. Fragments from the site were collected during a residency at the Merz Barn to form the outer shell- a dismantled shed, corrugated roofing, pulped newspaper , and concrete panels are cast as imprints. The patterns created by the corrugation in the cast surfaces and the concrete cladding on the sculpture, echoes an ancient Roman column, deconstructed by the temporality of the materials typically used for shelter. This column is broken, twisted as if a tree root, a worm eating into the ground, entangled in this excavation site as an unearthed future ruin.
Kindly commissioned by Littoral Trust , the Merz Barn as part of KS75 July-November 2022.
The Merz Barn, Lake District , Elterwater. https://merzbarnlangdale.wordpress.com/
Curated by Mille Laing-Tate