Seeing this blew me away! – Anna Milo

The joys of studying within a creative field when you’re young, easily distracted and not wholly engaged in what you want to aspire to, is being given the opportunity to travel to exhibitions, galleries, museums and destinations alike which are fuelled with engaging artistic concepts, whether visual or theoretical. And without fail, what you, the spectator experience at that exact moment will always captivate your premature yet artistically-engaged mind. It draws you into an artistically-philosophic and contemplative state that not many can inhabit, nor engage in, and forever leaves its mark in your memory bank of creative encounters.

My visit to the Forest of Dean was back in 2010, initiated as part of a college trip where 2-3 coaches-full of hyper and young creative-like heads had to complete a project which involved the Sculpture Trail being the pinnacle subject matter, and for us, we were creating a visual journal of our visit. Upon arrival and equipped with a backpack of sandwiches, drinks, pencils, pens, scrappy pad of paper, a journal and DSLR’s which we weren’t completely familiar with using, we were left to be on our way in our own ‘cliques’ you could say.

It was a lovely day to be there, the sun was shining with a cool breeze, the air felt so light, it was so easy to breathe compared to the atmosphere within the outskirts of west London, and then there was the ongoing silence, away from the hustle and bustle of the big town we had come from. I remember walking through the forest for a fair few hours and stumbling across a few sculptures (as even with the map we never actually planned our trail from one sculpture to another, so every encounter was startling and unexpected) we could see a break within the tall barks of the trees, beyond the break we could see the green of the hills and canopies of the trees set against the ocean blue and cotton white of the sky, and then there it was, Place.

Seeing this blew me away! Place – what seems to be a giant throne from the middle ages.

We were so immersed in what we were seeing, the conversations had become so minimal it was as if the eyes were feeding back to the mind, doing all the talking and nothing could be uttered. The mouth’s function had been cut off. Being the oldest there, I was struck by the uncanny silence from these youngsters that would more than often discuss weekend antics and anything alike, the only sound that was emitted was the clicking of the shutter on our cameras. I could almost see the cogs in their minds communicating, but who knew what they were each individually seeing, thinking and feeling. What I am sure of though is judging by our movements, we each reacted in a very similar meditative way; still and very calm.

For me, it wasn’t just the sculpture itself that captivated me, it was the effect it had on the spectators. Despite the easily-distracted and partially disengaged minds of these youngsters, their contemplative state had kicked in purely in response to the performance of the piece; not solely focusing on the scale and material itself, but moreover the juxtaposition of its setting and the effect it would have on someone, married to the familiar purpose we recognise a chair for, both of which resonate a feeling of relaxation. It was like a resting place for everything we believe in, whether if, what and how we or others see it, simply experiencing notions of a metaphysical state.

I remember when looking up at this piece, imagining a giant God-like figure sat on a throne, then thinking about my own beliefs and how far the world has come from such simplicity to mass confusion through an explosion of changes. I then begun to think about the world being stripped back, going back to more primitive times, but one where we adapted to our environment, rather than adapting our environment to our needs. We seem to have come into a long, conditioned and irreversible way of life.