This week’s photo challenge Weight(less) asks us to look at the effect of gravity in an image of something heavy or light. I decided to combine the two. While you might not immediately think of a fairy or a dandelion seed head as heavy, I’m going to try to change your mind.
Weight has always been relative, but the work going on at nearby Manchester University to explore the properties of weird new 2D material, graphene, sets a new standard of lightness. One million times thinner than the human hair, this new material is stronger than steel, stretchable, flexible, transparent. It forms such a perfect barrier that not even an atom can pass through it.
In comparison with that, a dandelion seed with its delicate parachute seems substantial and the fairy wrestling to keep hold of it in the wind, a giant.
At first sight it may seem that wind is the predominant force of nature depicted in action by the artist, but the poise and tension of the sculpture comes from the way we can watch gravity in action. See how the tiny seed has weight enough to tumble to the ground as soon as it loses momentum? Or the way the fairy’s left hand is slightly raised to help her balance her weight as her left knee and outstretched right foot anchor her to the ground against the pull of the wind?
My contention is that the fairy and the dandelion are weighty while the wind (and her wishes) are weightless. I can imagine contrary opinions being offered here – feel free to contribute in the comments, as always!
[I don’t mean to imply that her wishes don’t matter, I’m just pointing out that technically, they don’t weight anything, in so far as science has not yet managed to weigh thoughts. I’m sure that will come! Imagine thoughts weighed and wrapped up in graphene…]
About the wire sculpture
This fairy sculpture, titled Wishes, is one of a trail of 15 faerie sisters on permanent display at Trentham Gardens. The wishes idea comes from the traditional belief that blowing a ripe dandelion seed head is a way to divine the answer to a question.
The fairy trail at Trentham was installed to encourage visitors to ramble along the woodland nature trail that winds around the mile-long lake, away from the flowers. Something tempting was needed as the floral attractions include long herbaceous borders, the rivers of grass and the floral labyrinth designed by Piet Oudolf; formal, Italian-style gardens; kitchen gardens; and a good collection of themed display gardens, several of which started life at a RHS show.
Trentham was already a child friendly garden, with an adventure playground and maze and a sensory barefoot trial (closed during the winter, for obvious reasons). I love to watch kids squealing and squelching their way through the mud and over stones, enjoying the sensation of the different textures against their bare feet. It’s a great way to help little ones connect with the beautiful wild world around them.
The facts about graphene were taken from The University of Manchester’s website.
The fairy sculpture was created by Robin Wight. See his website Fantasy Wire for other examples and the story of the mysterious picture that was his inspiration.