Henry Castle, 2016
“The sculpture aims to bring to the surface aspects of what lies hidden below the ground of the Sculpture Trail. The main coal seam (the Coleford High Delf) lies 300 metres below ground surface. The work invites the public to experience a physical expression of this vertical depth by walking the distance between two sculptures, which can be seen one from another in the landscape.” Henry Castle
The two sculptures of Coal Measure Giants stand in the forest 300 metres apart. Each structure has two different elements, relating to the geological and industrial aspects of the forest’s history: fossilised trees in quarried rock, alongside cast iron forms.
In Castle’s words: “A large stone, taken from a local quarry and carrying the marks of trees from 300 million years ago, symbolises the carboniferous forests that make up the geological formation known as the Coal Measures. These stones are found today above and below the coal seams, carrying the very same tree types that can be seen in the ceilings of the mines. The stone creates a dialogue between two landscapes 300 million years apart: the world underground, and the living forest.
The second element of the sculptures are two cast iron forms based on the larch props used to brace the coal mine tunnels. These are simple 3-piece constructions made from larch trees which can carry the weight above. The props, cut and formed to the thickness of the Coal Measure, become a skeleton of the mine works as the earth, clay and water take back the mine. Each free miner had his signature way of cutting the notches, and a local free miner made the prop from which the iron casts have been taken. One sculpture is an exact replica of the prop and the other a vertical, tree-like form made from the three elements of the prop. The use of iron alludes to the presence of iron oxide within the coal mines of the forest.
The sculptures are site specific and placed above actual mine workings to encourage the public to visualise what lies below their feet, and to provide context for the imagery of the sculptures themselves. One of the sculptures is sited close to a stream, which continuously runs red with iron oxide.”
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About the Artist
"Henry Castle was born in 1987 and currently lives in London. He studied at the University of Gloucestershire and Wimbledon College of Art graduating in 2010, with The Landmark Sculpture Prize.
He was subsequently chosen to exhibit in the Anticipation exhibition, selected by Kay Saatchi, showcasing the best of London’s graduates of that year, and shortly after won a residency at the Jupiterartland sculpture park near Edinburgh. This culminated in a major commission for their collection, Hare Hill, which was installed in 2012. Henry’s work embodies a sense of place through a distillation of personal and often solitary experience and the excavation of the history of a landscape, and is realised in a direct engagement with concept, materials and processes.
For more information on Henry’s artwork and the research process visit the artist’s website: www.henrycastle.com