Like What You Like – An Artist’s Tip

Let me explain what I love about this photo. I love most anything fuzzy. I love the bulges of protruding pom-pom like fuzzy moss. Above and below is a different plant that I think is Spanish moss. It has tiny dot-like leaf. Finally, the chain link fence.

A straight up nature shot isn’t interesting to me anymore. Well, OK. I do take some straight up nature shots. I can admire and appreciate an Ansel Adams shot. They are brilliant. But they also seem part of the past. (Continued below.)

mossy wall at Tilden Botanical Garden

Moss and Chain Link Fence Tilden Botanical Garden


In my mind, the chain link stands for contrast. Or human kind’s intrusion. Or nature’s imprisonment and encirclement by humans. Oh, I’m sounding like a 10th grade English class. I’ll stop.

So moss and chain link fences are what I like, and I can accept it might be unappealing or esoteric. As a younger person I tried to be true to my aesthetic but I also found I really wanted to make things others would like. As an older person, I know it doesn’t work to try to make things others will like.

It’s great to make things for particular people. That can work well for the creative process. Imagine your friend, lover, child, mother, father or other dear person in front of you and create something for them. As does making things for yourself.

But making things that you think others will find cool, intriguing, beautiful etc. doesn’t work. I can’t prove it to you. I’m just saying that’s been my experience and what I’ve heard other artists say.

The Iconic Moss Maiden and her Giant

The Moss Maiden and her Giant friend reside in the Lost Gardens of Heligan, near Mevagissey in Cornwall. The two sculptures were created by Artist Sue Hill and her brother Pete Hill. In the photos the giant looks alive…the shape of his eye sockets and eye balls are so compelling. His sculpted ear and nose are somewhat exaggerated and humorous and integrate so well with the plants of his hair and skin. The moss maiden I admire for the way she hugs the earth and becomes one with the forest around her.

Moss Maiden and Giant at the Lost Gardens of Heligan
Top three images are the Giant, Lower image is the Moss Maiden at the Lost Gardens of Heligan

If you are wondering how the moss maiden was created…the project started with a hallow frame of timber and windbreak netting which was then covered with sticky mud. Mud, sand and cement were mixed together to form her face and hands and then coated with yogurt to encourage the growth of lichen. Her hair is Woodsedge and Montebretia plants while her clothes are ivy.

The Giant’s head was created out of a fallen tree with a huge root ball. Again, mud was plastered onto the tree root to create the face. Finally twigs were scattered through and stuck on the top of the head.

Sue and Pete Hill have created other moss maidens for The Eden Project in Cornwall and the 2006 Chelsea Flower show and other earthwork installations. Today Sue is a core member of Wildworks, an unconventional Cornish theatre group that travels the world to create massive installation/ theater events.

The Lost Gardens of Heligan are an expansive Cornwall, England estate that fell into neglect during WWII. Today its a popular botanical garden. From the mid-18th Century to the beginning of the 20th Century, the Tremayne family created the gardens which are made of several gardens of different designs as was typical of 19th Century estates. Before WWI there were 22 gardeners caring for the gardens, 16 of whom died in the war. In the decades that followed the house was rented out. In the 1990’s the gardens were rediscovered and restored by a member of the extended family and other garden enthusiasts. The local economy was revitalized when the garden restoration project became the subject of a British TV series in 1996.

You can see other mud/moss sculptures at this link including several moss maidens’ created by Sue and Pete Hill.
Learn more about the Lost Gardens of Heligan on Wikipedia.
Short Bio of Sue Hill at The Wildworks.
Moss Maiden Video at “Look Around Cornwall”

Giving credit where credit due. As best I can tell these Moss Maiden and Giant photos are by: Ollie O’Brien, Fat Dad, Walt Jabsco (larger Giant image), and Liz Jones (maiden).