Plasticine Island

The most difficult part of this project was cutting out the cardboard base. It was surprisingly hard to keep a straight line even with the straight edge to guide the blade, and it took significantly longer than I had expected.

I originally began this task with the aim of creating a hand-shaped island, an idea that has captured my imagination since I first came across it in Ursula le Guin’s A Wizard of Earthsea. A finger and thumb into the attempt, however, and I realised that my modelling skills were not up to the task. So I abandoned that possibility and began pursuing another avenue, this time something a little more easily identifiable as an island. I was inspired in part by the science fiction of the 1980s to create soft geometric shapes in the crescents of the two bays and the spiralling cone-like hill.

In the main, however, I wanted to invent a place that in another reality adventurers could revel in exploring. Thus the island is almost separated into two, each part connected by an isthmus that might provide access only at low tide. The journey might begin in the crescent bay on the north island. From here can be seen an arch/stack/stump formation similar to the geological phenomenon found, for example, at Durdle Door near Lulworth. The traveller can leave the bay and ascend the hill via the spiral pathway that skirts it, and find the top filled with a lake the stillness of which would provide a stark contrast to the lapping tide in the bay and the surging waves near the stacks. The only way to get to the plateau is via an elevated and narrow land bridge. The journey proceeds over the isthmus to the south island where the explorer encounters a crumbled arch and several ancient burial mounds. Nearby is another crescent bay, cradling a deep cave that promises the treasure of interred kings.

My island perhaps suffers from its inability to decide whether it is an object of science fiction, with its unnaturally geometric shapes, or of fantasy, with its other more organic and ‘historical’ forms. If I were to start over, I would choose one or the other, and by doing so create a greater sense of atmosphere, a place to be immersed in.

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My Motivation for Becoming a Landscape Architect

A long time ago I ordered a vase from the PastTimes website. It was delivered with a free gift item, a non-fiction book by Tim Smit called The Lost Gardens of Heligan. Its uninspiring cover meant that it remained unread on my shelf for several years until one morning when I needed something new to read on the tube to work and it happened to be the book I pulled down in my hurry to leave the flat. Once safely ensconced on the train I opened the first page, prepared for some slow and heavy reading, and of course my preconceptions were immediately swept away and I was captivated. Smit takes the reader with him stumbling across the forgotten and dramatically overgrown gardens of an abandoned Victorian estate, as magical and poignant as Frances Hodgson Burnett’s. The process of restoration uncovered the history of the estate’s owners, their lives, practices and ingenious innovations, artistic ideals and journeys to exotic lands. From then on I remained enamoured with the idea of shaping environments of my own, working with landscapes to create embodiments of those same things for our own time, in all their variety.