An artist from Darlington has unveiled a striking new sculpture inspired by the landscape around the town.
‘Back to Our Roots’ by Paul Green, who has a studio in Darlington’s Skinnergate, and tree-sculptor Tommy Craggs, has been unveiled in the North York Moors National Park.
The wooden carved sculpture will be allowed to go back to the ground, allowed to slowly decay and make a home for mosses and fungi.
Paul Green had just returned to Darlington from London in 2019 when he originally produced an oil painting of the ‘haunting and vulnerable’ figure.
He said: “My house in London had been broken into and the experience had left me feeling quite vulnerable. I returned to Darlington and was so inspired by the landscapes that surround the town. The painting was a raw expression of searching for and connecting with the place I was from, while being influenced by the beauty around me.”
Working with tree-sculptor Tommy Craggs, the painting has now been turned into carving which sits in the grounds of the Danby Lodge National Park Centre, near Whitby.
He added: “It was incredible to see the work come together and then positioned in such a special environment. A piece like that would never have worked in a shop or gallery. It’s about roots and earth and it should absolutely be displayed in nature.”
The sculpture will not be preserved in its current state, but allowed to slowly decay within its natural surroundings.
Paul said: “Ultimately the sculpture will go back into the ground, but the process by which that happens, the life that will grow on it and inside it during that process adds a new dimension. I hope the decaying process itself can be recorded and documented as part of the work.
“Art should always be open to individual perception, and I think there are so many ways to interpret this piece.”
Sally-Anne Smith, curator of the Inspired by… gallery at Danby Lodge National Park Centre, said: “The ‘Back to our Roots’ sculpture is symbolic of humankind’s connection to nature, a relationship which each of us must address at a personal level if we are to tackle global challenges such as the climate emergency and biodiversity loss.
“The new management plan, too, looks to reignite these connections with nature and the environment. We cannot expect people to care about and protect something they have not had the opportunity to experience or develop an affinity for.”
The sculpture was unveiled as part of the launch of the national park’s new management plan, which will address subjects including climate change, mental health, connecting with underserved communities and changing land-use.
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