Art For Everyone : Public Art Installations

Read about the whole point of "Looking Around London" at this link here.

Get started with my pictures and thoughts on the London Tree Trunk Tour here.

The Tree Trunk Tour is going to be on Hamilton Road, and I'm blogging its creation here.

Sunday, 4 December 2011

Eldon House

There are currently 16 trees on the London Tree Trunk Tour, but now only 15 stops. If you are visiting London from outside of the city, there is a good chance that one of your first stops after leaving Highway 401 will be the London Tourism Visitors Centre.

'Eldon House', a carving representing one of London's other tourist attractions, is located beside the visitor's centre, at 696 Wellington Road South. This carving has recently been joined by Mother Nature, most likely due to issues with that trunk's structural stability in its old Queens Av. location. The Visitor's Centre is about a ten minute drive from downtown, so its not a walking tour, by any means. Having more that one sculpture in the same place does give people more of an opportunity to stop and take a look at what they are all about.

'Eldon House' is somewhat similar to 'Charles S. Hyman' in its construction. There are a few elements which were carved into the trunk itself, and many other parts of the design are plaques made in a workshop and attached to the tree once it was finished in this location.

There is, unlike any of the other stops on the tour, a commemorative plaque in front of the trunk, which gives a little bit of info about the carving, and also promotes Eldon House itself.

The trunk has large, rough, rounded flowers at the top, which look like daisies, or perhaps peonies, London's official flower. They face both the front and back of the piece.

The elements that relate to Eldon house itself are divided into 8 separate areas on the trunk. Two designs are placed every 90 degree turn around the tree, giving the carving 4 different 'faces' to look at.

The front face has an owl's face recessed into the top and carved in relief. It was carved from the solid piece of trunk. The bottom is a front view of Eldon house with its wide veranda. 

Travelling around the trunk counter-clockwise, the next face is two portraits, Amelia Ryerse Harris above, and John Harris below. These images appear to have been created from scans of official portraits inside the house.

The rear face of the carving has a compass on the top. John Harris was a surveyor in the British Navy, and one of the initial surveyors when Upper Canada was being mapped. This is likely what the compass represents. Below, there is a view of one of the ladies of Eldon House in the dining room.  The house was well known at the time for its hospitality. That reputation was not harmed by the fact that the Harris family had seven daughters to court.

The fourth face's plaques picture an elephant's foot umbrella stand, and a military soldier in a doorway. The umbrella stand is a well known trophy, collected by John's grandson George Henry Ronalds Harris during his time in Africa. The soldier is, if you look closely, somewhat transparent, which makes me think he represents the ghost of Eldon House. This story seems to have a higher level of interest than when I visited Eldon House on school field trips as a child.

 I would like to make a couple of notes about how the caving was made. The main body of the tree is a chainsaw carved trunk, with trees and leaves. Almost all of the detail work is slabs of wood carved with a computer aided design technique, and then attached after the trunk was placed in its location. For the chainsaw carving purist, this might not be what was expected in a sculpture. I'm also not sure how well the pieces will age and colour relative to the different wood on the trunk itself.

The signature is a subtle one again. The initials of Neil Cox, and Mary-Ann Jack-Bleach, the collaborating artists, are carved into
the trunk, above a date of 2010.

Although this is not a movie, I do have bonus footage! Check out the arrival and completion of this tree carving, courtesy of Tourism London.

Return to the Tree Trunk Tour Overview Page
Check out all the entries using the London Art Map  
Curious about this artist? Try Neil Cox's Links

1 comment:

  1. Mary-Ann Jack-Bleach15 December 2011 at 20:28

    Hello CoolHead, I read your comments on the Eldon House tree with interest. Great photos and commentary. I can add a little more to what you have written. Neil and I decided to use the same technique he used on the Hymen Str tree carving. We had people's faces and some scenes to depict and by separating the wood from the tree it was hoped that we would prevent cracking. I will keep what is an interesting story about the process brief. The tree selected on Waterloo street was massive around the trunk and limbs and a bit lopsided. Neil shaved about five +- 6 foot by 6" deep slabs off the tree to reshape it. We used this plentiful wood (once dried for a few months) for the relief carved plaques. So the wood is from the same tree and because it is more of the sap wood than heart wood it is slightly lighter in colour and has some really interesting grain patters /discolouration - which we love. I planned to stain the plaques after a year to blend the colour with the tree. On the 22nd it marks a year since we finished the tree. Better get going... You are very perceptive about the soldier as it was my attempt at portraying the ghost. I collaborated with the researchers of the ghost at Eldon House to know exactly where he was seen and viewed from. This entire project was a collaborative one as we asked the interpreters at EH to select subjects for the plaques and gathered as much input as we could before carving. The plaques were done from photographs I took of the actual items in the Home. Neil Cox did the lion share of the work by carving the actual tree. He is amazing to work with and we have been friends for over 20 years. His work speaks for itself. Great blog and take care. Mary-Ann Jack-Bleach.