Yesterday I took my Poetry Workshop outdoors to the Sculpture Woods: The Studio Grounds of Ann Morris. Ann Morris is an amazing bronze sculptor whose work really must be seen to be believed. From the visitor’s guide/map:
With myth and metaphor, Ann Morris’ sculpture speaks of the relationship between Nature and humankind. On the fifteen acres of Northwest forest which surround her studio Art and Nature converge. A wild quiet provides the setting for these figurative bronzes which appear to emerge from the ancient earth. It is a landscape in which to walk, look and reflect. While here please honor the land, the tranquility, the art and the privacy of the artist.
The artist understandably asks that photos not be taken or posted on social media sites, so I am respecting her wishes (and ask that everyone else do the same). Which is why I would like to direct you to her website to have a glimpse of her beautiful work:
I think her work will be of great interest to anyone interested in myth and art in connection to the natural landscape, as each bronze sculpture is a part of the land itself, surrounded by trees and moss and ferns and flowers growing right there and contributing to the overall aesthetic experience. In fact, the lovely photographs on her site do not really do justice to the scale and setting of this incredible work. It’s one thing to see a photograph, but it’s quite another to see a pair of bald eagles soar overhead as you approach the Backbone of the Universe, hear the cry of a raven as you approach the trio of sculptures based on Merlin (Becoming Merlin, Not Merlin, and Merlin Wakes?), spot the hoofprints of deer as you enter the grove of statues portraying The (Horned) Goddess of Cycles (Will There Be a Place for Me?, Her Cry, and Life/Death/Life), or discover the fresh spiderwebs adorning the oracular tripod of Ask Gaia. Yesterday I followed a periwinkle butterfly down a forest trail to one of my favorite sculptures – Gifting the Giver, which portrays a being who is simultaneously male and female and neither, arms raised in a praise offering to the spectacular seascape below.
Much of her work is inspired by bones and skeletons, and in works like Trinity she manages to collapse the boundaries between plant, animal and human life. In other works, like Death’s Sister, her work is so organic and lifelike that it is almost impossible to distinguish between the bronze and the actual living plants which surround the piece. The studio grounds also contain a gallery exhibition room displaying her smaller scale bronzes, such as the Bone Journey series, in which bones are transformed into vessels or boats, which the artist explains are “a symbol of our own journey through Nature and Time” (Ann Morris, from the visitor’s guide).
The Ann Morris Sculpture Woods and Studio Grounds are open to the public on the first Saturday of every month, and are also often open during the island-wide Artist Studio Tours (which happen three times a year in May, August, and November). If you live in the Pacific Northwest or intend to visit the region, I highly recommend visiting The Sculpture Woods to see her inspiring work for yourself. For those of us who live here, it is like having a museum, a temple, and a lush forest occupying the same sacred ground.
And if you aren’t able to visit this area any time soon, there is a gorgeous coffee-table book featuring 137 photographs and the artist’s own words about her work, which can be purchased here: