by Peter Appleton, located 1986, refurbished 1999
WE APOLOGISE FOR THE TEMPORARY REMOVAL OF THIS WORK FOR MAINTENANCE
Peter Appleton’s sculpture, Melissa’s Swing was conceived as a kind of Aeolian Harp to be suspended in a tree for the wind to activate into sound. Since the wind is less noticeable in summer when most people would visit the sculptures, he felt that people should be able to make the sound for themselves, by pulling on an attached rope.
Since they were bound to swing on the rope, he thought it best to complete the piece with a swing, so that people could enjoy the sensation of swinging while the shimmering metallic sounds filtered in and out of the natural sounds of the forest. When softly stirred the sound is like that of the wind in the leaves, but when vigorously shaken, it resembles the sound of thunder. The sculpture alerts us to the many different and subtle sounds of the forest, so that our sense of hearing as well as our sense of sight and touch is stimulated.
You walk away from the swing more aware of the insect sounds, the birdsong, the breeze stirring the leaves, the rustle of a snake in the undergrowth, the ripple of water, or the whine of a chainsaw in the distance.
The swing is named after the artists daughter, Melissa.
For me the forest turned out to be as much about people as trees. I hadn’t heard of the Forest of Dean before the possibility of a commission arose, and my first imaginings were of a Robin Hood type habitat-the Robin Hood that people over thirty watched as children. The outlaws turned out to be Freeminers and Sheepbadgers, with the Forestry Commission as the Sheriff~ though a little more benign. The hero was Gary Trigg who lives at Kensley Lodge in the heart of the Forest. Gary taught me the difference between yew and beech and also introduced me to old `WiIf who brewed cider. Pleasant evenings were spent on Wilfs bench overlooking Gloucestershire; very few words but a lot of good feelings. The tap was not always open and some art was made.