The Art of Living
The Art of Living was commissioned by Rachel Bradley and Jason E. Bowman as part of the Reputations programme of sited artworks in Castlemilk, Glasgow. It was funded by the Scottish Arts Council, and Glasgow City Council. It was one of two Reputations commissions in the area, created in collaboration with the Castlemilk Environment Trust.
In November 2005, Edwina started her commission to transform an area of Holmbyre Woods, on the edge of Castlemilk, Glasgow. The Woods are located between the local crematorium and a farmer’s graveyard. Because of this, she used the subject of human mortality as the starting point for the commission.
The Art of Living’s emphasis was on celebrating and reinforcing people’s sense of vitality. Throughout the 18 month project, Edwina worked closely with local residents and Scottish biodiversity experts to create the Blood-Chlorophyll Labyrinth, which acts as a spiral pathway into the newly created woodland walks.
Mortality: the state of being subject to death
The Art of Living focused on the changing nature and diversity of plant-life to develop and enhance our sense of nurture for a place. The artwork highlighted the distinctive features of the local woodlands, the panoramic views across the surrounding areas, and reintroduced indigenous wild plants to increase biodiversity.
It also acknowledged that there is always a tension when crossing the threshold of a woodland or forest; that of being seduced or frightened. It is deliberately ambiguous whether this seduction or fear is inspired by nature or another human being.
Vitality: the ability to sustain life, and have sustained vital power.
The Blood-Chlorophyll Labyrinth
The Growing Space
The Growing Space was a wild plant nursery set in the middle of housing. It was created in March 2006 as a space for local residents to meet Edwina, learn about plant-life, and generate ideas about how Holmbyre Woods could be transformed.
The Growing Space was also used for social events and barbeques, as there were no formal gathering spaces in this part of Castlemilk. An event and party was organised in September 2006 to ask local residents what they wanted to happen in Holmbyre Woods.
The Art of Living publication
The project was accompanied by a publication of the same name. It features a story by award winning writer Leslie Forbes about a rare woodland orchid that no longer needs chlorophyll in order to survive, so has become completely white. It may or may not exist in Holmbyre Wood.
This book takes the form of a labyrinth, exploring the twists and turns of the Art of Living project.The project is contextualised in terms of relational/ socially engaged art practice through a conversation between Edwina and artist/educationalist David Harding.
Publisher: Aye-Aye books in association with CCA.
Artist: Edwina fitzPatrick.
Texts by Edwina fitzPatrick, Jason E. Bowman, Matthew Finkle, Lewis MacSween, David Harding.
Story by Leslie Forbes (Author of Orange Prize nominated Fish, Blood & Bone).
Edited by Jason E. Bowman.
A labyrinth is a single path, walked for contemplation. Unlike walking through woodland, it is impossible to get lost.
The haemoglobin in our blood is identical at a cellular level to that of plant’s chlorophyll. The only difference is that the core element of this molecule is iron for us, and magnesium for plants.
The construction of this labyrinth combines a classic seed design and the shape of the common the blood/chlorophyll cells.
A Sorbus Embley (Rowan tree) grows at the heart of the labyrinth, at the exact point where two underground streams intersect. The leaves of this species, whilst green in summer, turn blood-red in autumn.
Embedded in the labyrinth walls are 100 texts, tags and drawings made by local residents during an event in the Growing Space in September 2006. Tom Allan, a local carver, transcribed into them in stone.
Plants from the Growing Space were embedded within and around the labyrinth walls. This reintroduced plants, which are becoming less common or have died out completely in the area. These in turn should attract more wildlife into the woodlands.
The plants were all of local provenance, and were grown from seedlings so that they acclimatised to the soil and weather conditions.