Wednesday, September 26, 2007

" Standing Solemnly in Stockport..."

These are sculptures, each 8ft high, now proudly standing in Stockport Art Gallery.They were made by Robert Koenig, born Manchester 1951, talented son of Polish immigrants. BUT, to digress:

Years ago, my family and I walked with Lakeland pals in the Forest of Grizedale. This woodland covers 6000 acres of Cumbria, between lakes Windermere and Coniston. That July, we were stunned. Everywhere, there were foxgloves; between trees, beneath trees, beside trees. They hovered high over brooks, they straddled low across ditches, and as we strolled, they glided ahead of us in endless procession.
"Foxgloves", beamed our children, "foxgloves, they rule!".

The children were fascinated. They stood for photos by foxgloves, they grinned between clumps , they leapt in the air to reach their faraway tips. Most were pink, a few white, but many were tall, towering and stately. And, according to our younger son, struggling over words as he crunched teeth into apple: " Those foxgloves, Mum, are absalootly mugnificent!"

AND yes, there was other " mugnificent" stuff in Grizedale Forest.

There were trees, of course, and colours, of course: umbers, ochres, the startling flash of a dozen greens, a surprising orange, a secret purple, a splash of crimson. There was the scent of the woodland, the crackle of twigs underfoot, the sudden cry of a bird as it swooped overhead, and yes, there was other folk's laughter, echoing ahead, haunting those spaces between tall graceful trees.

THIS OTHER STUFF was sculpture, the most wonderful of pieces; to stare at, to laugh at, even to be moved by. And just like the foxgloves, sculpture " ruled" in the forest. It hid in copses, it roared triumphantly out of them, it cowered in dells, it stood solidly before us and it slunk shyly behind us. All of it was created with forest material; bark from its trees, mosses, water, lichen, the earth itself. It surprised and it delighted. And there were sculpture trails, sculpture themes, parts to touch and parts to smell.....sculptures to listen to, to play with, to dream upon.

AND THEN just yesterday, I heard that one of the sculptors in the Grizedale Sculpture Project ( started 1977) was Robert Koenig ( see his work above). At present he's exhibiting at Stockport Art Gallery, Wellington Rd South, Stockport, SK3 8AB. It's a free exhibition, open to all.

There's 23 figures, carved by Koenig in the Polish village of Dominikowice, where his mother, Maria, was born. Each figure was carved from lime trees which grew on Maria's family farm.
And Koenig then travelled across Europe with them, finally bringing them to Stockport, the town where Maria ( after the Nazis) had her family, made her home.
They're stunning and startling. They're silent, serious and some of them, Koenig says, will watch over Maria's grave in the land she fled to, all those years ago.

They're keeping guard on the memories of someone's special life.


Blogger Absolute Vanilla (and Atyllah) said...

There is nothing quite so beautiful as a walk in an English wood in summer. I was in the New Forest in June and the foxgloves - pink sculptures - though not abundant stood tall and proud and playful in the dappled shadows of the trees.

Lovely post. I long for a walk in a English forest again.

8:55 am  
Anonymous marly said...

Yes, that was delicious--foxgloves (I still have one in bloom, and that is astounding in my zone), children, art, love.

4:06 pm  
Blogger Jan said...

Lovely comments yourself, Vanilla.

Marly: Thanks for calling and always enjoying your palace at 2am.

9:25 pm  

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