The start of my PhD research project began with a walk where I live, a park I spend much of my time in. Here there are many old and beautiful oak trees which started life as an acorn containing just one seed. When a seed is germinated, a taproot is produced anchoring the tree for the rest of its life. The seed sends a shoot towards the surface of the ground as the season changes and the frost abates. The oak tree is often represented as a metaphor for strength, stability, endurance, longevity, and resilience. I collected a small number of acorns which had fallen from the oaks and took them to the studio to look at, observe and work with. The acorn became the metaphoric seed I planted for the taproot of my PhD.
I made a two-part mould in ceramics and started casting, finishing each by hand. The acorns led me to researching the life cycles of trees and the work of the biochemist and botanist Diana Beresford- Kroeger through her book and film, ‘To Speak for the Trees’ . She cites the role of the forests as critical in maintaining planetary health and her narratives come from a place of love, connection to the earth and hope. I cast and released each porcelain acorn from the mould, attending to each before firing. I started to think about measuring time through the acorns. I reflected on the approximate five-year time frame required to undertake a part-time PhD. Based on a Gregorian calendar, 1825 days equates to 5 years. I am half way through my PhD and have made 989 acorns to date. I guess this means I am slightly ahead of my timeframe. ‘Commitment’ is a work in progress and will be completed with the culmination of my PhD research project. It has been exhibited in four iterations already, the Creative Exchange Perth, the RSA Open in 2022, as a front piece in the book Decolonising Place Based Arts Research. (2022) and Objects of Conviction, Patriothall, Edinburgh, 2023.
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