The Birth of Lady Dalziel – in the Apple OrchardDec 13, 2020 - By Seoras Miller
I have been approached many times to be asked about my sculpture and I had to confess that its beginning and conceptualization arose out of my discontent of seeing this very ugly black dead apple tree everyday for over two years. It was just standing there and no one was doing anything about it. I had even given it the name “Two hundred Fingers of Death”. And then finally one Tuesday morning, I felt I had had enough and I decided to cut away all that was ugly and have all the large branches efficiently and tightly bundled up for the waste pickup on the next morning.
After about two weeks of sitting and watching the sunset from the apple orchard – I thought the least I can do is convert the bare dead tree trunk into something more aesthetically pleasing. And at this time, as part of dealing with the virus, I would take long beautiful river walks along Mooney’s Bay, to Hogs Back Falls, and along the river, by Vincent Massey Park, to Billings Bridge. On one of these meditative walks, I fortuitously found some beautiful large grained slices of a big dead tree that was cut down. And it struck me somehow as fitting that these two dead and living things in my mind, be married together.
I think that my daily orchard sunset meditations, as the setting sun’s warm orange trance inducing rays penetrated my closed eyes, brought forth the creative expressions that followed. The art, upon the large attached wooden slices, – then followed. It was most primitive, and I believe flowed from my unconscious expression of my earlier mythological Egyptian understandings of the life sustaining energy of the sun as a living God. Other images recorded were unconscious and incorporated what looked, in the sunset, as a line of spiritual guardians; the metal monster hydro towers standing guard in the setting sun. On the back side of the sculpture is an image of a sea of eyes and an animal (some say Hindu Cow, representing goddess Aditi, mother of many gods; some see a female lion). The image appears to be saying something of great importance as an ancient Oracle would do.
As the evenings progressed, and as the sun paints the clouds each night, my mind turned to internal existential questioning of the nature and structure of the unconscious mind and systems of belief which attempt to tell us who and what we are. It was in these thoughts that I assembled the three small square mirrors, representing the reflective parts of the changing layers of the evolving ‘Self’. At this point in my meditative mind – the sculpture was a living form and the installed warm copper swirl pointing to the sky, was its emanating and receiving cosmic energy vortex. At this point, I felt the sculpture was no longer mine alone.
The children, over the remaining months, continued to come with parents and some began conversing with the sculpture. And some sat reading in the shade of the apple trees. It may have been solitude of sorts, and sanctuary space away from the tormenting reality of the virus that called out to them. And I tried to make myself invisible, but something transformative had now happened to the orchard.
I do not feel the little orchard is now the same – as more and more people stop their cars, or walking approach me in my garden offering expressions of gratitude and asking questions. Some ask me if the structure has a name and I say it does. It is called ‘Lady Dalziel” I tell them, after my Scottish grandmother that I revere, but never had the opportunity to meet.