The grass seemed darker than ever, Commissioned by Kielder Art & Architecture and Forestry Commission England, Kielder Forest, Northumberland, 2016.
Chestnut Palings, Wire, Water-Based Wood Stain. 3m (h) x 30m (w)
This commission responded to the site of Kielder Castle, originally built as a hunting lodge for the Duke of Northumberland in the late 18th century. This period in English history was marked by dramatic changes to the landscape as around 1/6th of the land moved from common use to private ownership through the introduction of the Inclosures Acts. The Acts and accompanying laws developed to police the borders between inside and outside marked a highly charged moment in English history. The notion of landscape fundamentally shifted and became more deeply entangled with ideas of territory and personal property rights. Attendant with the codification of this move in law came the physical and material transformation of the landscape through the use of fences and hedges. These physical boundaries became tangible obstacles against the free movement of people and animals through the landscape. The bright blue of the fence alludes to the ‘circling sky’ above the forest canopy, a reference to John Clare’s poem ‘The Mores’ (1820) which laments the impact of the enclosure system on the English landscape. Inside the fence the forest floor is painted black in reference to the ‘Black Act’,’ a punitive law introduced in 1723 to curtail poaching in response to a swathe of civil unrest sparked by the loss of common land.