Forest of Imagination 2018 approached me a week before their 3 day event in Bath to co-ordinate and build them a Museo Solar Aerocene out of old plastic bags. The Aerocene has been developed by the architect Tomas Saraceno best known for his large-scale, interactive installations and floating sculptures, and for his interdisciplinary approach to art.
My first response to this request was “Are they mad! I hate plastic bags.” But loving a challenge I began. Tracking down plastic bags has become to my delight a hard thing to do. I approached the Council’s recycle depot, Supermarkets and friends – who all told me “no can do”. So I sent out an email to members of Transition Larkhall and over a weekend a gaggle of women arrived at my door with bags, upon bags of plastic bags. Some put them under seats in the garden. Some were embarrassed by the considerable collection they had accumulated, lowering eyelids, handing over their stuffed confession. As a ardent maker of fabric and felted bags because plastic is a pollution, I was aghast at my kitchen table’s volumnious hoard. My sons became ashamed of our house and its over indulgence in plastic.
I realised that to build this large “balloon” required order and momentum and set about the task of cutting bags and sticking long lengths together. Plastic Fantastic had begun. Over the course of the week I became an expert in how these holdalls had been put together and how best to to take them apart. One generous donation was a bag filled with all the loaves of bread consumed. It really is hard to know what to do with the many layers of plastic our world has become cocooned in.
My sons sporting activity of Dodgeball became my first major layout zone at Hayesfield Girls School. Parents and teenagers looked on bemused. With great kindness the New Oriel Hall in Larkhall allowed me the use of their large rooms to stick and cut and stick and cut over many hours till I had managed to construct a very large piece of plastic cloth 5 meters by 13.5 meters.
The first day at Forest of Imagination in Kingsmead Square was fine and dry and the plastic fantastic was laid out for all to see. “What are you making?” many young children asked. With kind help I was joined by volunteers who worked with me to get the required size of 5meters by 15meters and looking closely at our instructions with paper cut outs in hand we slowly stuck and folded the Tetro Aerocene together. On the second day a leaf blower was purchased and so begun the task of filling up the Aerocene. It took us some time to realise that a leaf blower has two nozzles, one that forces air out, the other air in. We needed the nozzle for air in. And with a crowd gathering the Aerocene was launched. What a beautiful thing to see and before long many a child and adults were delighting in this jaunty, moving, circus like sculpture. It brought out a smile in all who saw and made me think about plastic. To watch a short Film click here.