Monday, 17 August 2009

Re:The Plinth Thing

Is it Art ? Is it Life ?

I expected a few more comments about this. It's quite an important event and I feel priviledged to have been involved.

I thought it would start some sort of discussion - somewhere - in cyberspace.

Have none of you regular blog readers got any thoughts on the matter ???

The sound of a chorus of dogs barking (Jed, Millie & Ava) in Trafalgar Square at that time of day was memorable...


Unknown said...

I suspect what you have done is so unusual in the experience of greenwood workers that we really don't know what to say about it - you've pushed the boundaries! Good on yer!

Usually a greenwood demonstration will involve the public at a distance of 1 or 2 meters. So you have not got the usual intimacy working in your favour - think of looking at Richard Burton acting too far away to see what he is doing, and you'll have the sense of it.

Would they have allowed a pole-lathe?

Richard Law said...

I thought it was a fox howling, didn't think there'd be dogs around that time of morning.
I think the distance thing doesn't matter as most people will see the performance on their lil screens at home where the camera got in quite close. The horse looked like an innovation, it could look really minimalist with a one legged stool as well!Very enjoyable anyway, and what a great exposure for greenwoodworkers! Well done!

Woodland Antics said...


well done. Somehow I managed to miss that you were going onto the plinth. As I was away at a show I've not had time to watch the whole event yet, but I liked the way you were so self contained. It seemed to fit the occasion.

I agree with Gavin (how about that). I think you've done something quite special and it's certainly set me thinking. We need to raise awareness of green woodworking in contemporary ways, not just as a 'dead' quaint craft, and you've certainly done that. Kind of punk-wood ! nice one.

I'm still thinking about it, but I'm wondering how Sean is going to top that? Maybe a chainsaw carving tour of devon on an open top bus?

More later as I'm off mending fences today

Unknown said...

"We need to raise awareness of green woodworking in contemporary ways" writes Woodland Antics above.

- Indeed we do. Greenwoodworking is low energy, low impact and raises consciousness and increases happiness.

- But what is the best way to do this awareness-raising? Robin's plinth slot is a good way to expand the boundaries. The question is: what else can we do to raise awareness?

Unknown said...

Looking at the video again, I can see that rehearsal is vital. Robin first lays down banners so folk can find his website , but he is still laying them out at 7 mins 37 seconds. I think that is too long, and I wonder if Robin practised on a plinth-sized area before he got there? Perhaps he could have had the gaffer tape already cut and stuck on the ends of his banner, or just used blocks of wood to weigh the banner down.

Also, should he have had a number of spare spoon-blanks in his bag at various stages of carving in case of a failure - as did happen with the snapped handle? Or if he did not complete a particular stage quick enough?

What Robin has done is make a performance. Greenwood workers are used to taking as long as we want, or to getting the job done as quick as possible. Neither of these approaches were appropriate here: like an actor, I suggest Robin wants the public to engage with what he is doing and for a precise period of time. Actors rehearse ad nauseaum - perhaps greenwood workers should also do the same, esp if they are in a time-defined arena.

Robin Fawcett said...

I did do a rehearsal and made a spoon that I was happy with in around 35-40mins. So going up there I thought "I'll have to slow this down a bit" and over did it.
It's frustrating to see myself still fiddling with the drawknife so late on - I'm shouting at the screen "Come on, get moving!" Time stood still and sped by up on that plinth - plus I didn't have a watch and was looking at a clock which I later found out was 5mins slow.

I probably could have taken a lathe but couldn't entertain making a special one to fit the plinth. What would I have turned?
I think the spoon is a sculptural and symbolic object and the fact that I broke and repaired it was somehow part of the "act" - thank god for that gaffer tape!
Anyway I had a laugh and enjoyed the experience, the sleep pattern is still badly disrupted though.

Seanhellman said...

I like the plinth and all the people that have been, and will be up there. It is a real cross section of life. A brilliant piece of art.
I did like the horse, have you named it? I would suggest a `Gents Horse`. When I saw it I thought that would be great on the sofa in the living room, you know for gentlemen bodgers.

Mark, an open top bus chainsawing in Devon, you think to small my man. After seeing Robins horse I have designed and made a shaving horse that can be used whilst in free fall, with a chopping block attached. This stunt will involve me raising £2000000 for the heritage craft association. It involves me jumping out of an aeroplane, while free falling I will axe the knife blank out of a log and then shaping it. When the parachute opens I will do the knife work. As I land the bowl of cereal will be eaten. I will not be taking gaffer tape with me.

Robin I agree, a spoon was the best thing symbolically to make.

Robin Fawcett said...

The horse was originally called "The Bodger Bord" but I renamed it a "Lap Shave" I did a post about it on the Bodger's Ask & Answer forum ages ago but got fairly negative replies at the time. (Type Bodger Bord into the search box on my blog for plans)

Woodland Antics said...


I never doubted your prodigious abilities to think big. I presume it will be a wooden aeroplane? If not, perhaps you could substitute a base jump from a wooden totem pole that you carved on the way up?

Joking aside, sometimes I am not good at thinking outside the box and I admire it when I see good work outside the box, as Robin has done. Maybe one way to (start to) address this is to reinvigorate the half-hour challenge at the bodgers ball with some more 'performance' oriented work? I'll reach for my thinking cap.



Woodland Antics said...


you do realise that we are going to have to refer to you as 'The Gaffa' from now on?



Robin Fawcett said...

Yes...Gaffa Man, why not
I've since stuck the split with PVA and painted the spoon yellow and blue!

Simon said...

Just got back from hols and, as a keen follower of your blog, one of the first things i did was to log on and see how you got on. It was great - what a fabulous thing to see craft being performed as art in the middle of london in the middle of the night. PhDs will be written on this one day.......