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Biocycles woven willow installation in medieval window near Wells Cathedral_edited_edited_
Scension II maquette_edited.jpg
Scension II installation Wells Somerset.jpg

Biocycles  (monument to impermanence)

Biocycles - what's it all about? 




Natural progression. 

Life cycles. 


Hanging from a medieval window at the Bishop's Palace & Gardens, Wells, the installation captures the ambiguity of an ending being a beginning. 


When something’s time is up, it makes way for another to emerge and grow.  This reflects cycles of growth and decay, our place in the natural world and ecological evolution. 


So, Biocycles is directionally ambiguous ...


Ascending or descending? 


Rising or falling? 


Emerging or disappearing?

Martin Staniforth installing Scension II at Wells-07_edited.jpg

The dynamic forms of Biocycles suggest decay and growth, though it is uncertain as to whether the structures are fading or emerging. They echo the circle of life; as one life form disintegrates, it serves to nourish another, promoting new growth, a fresh start, a new direction.

Photo: Jim Wileman

Weaving willow sections for Biocycles 

The sculptures were woven, in 8 sections, from westcountry willow withies.  Each section measured up to 3 metres long.  They were then transported to the Bishop's Palace & Gardens, Wells, to be woven together and installed on/by the imposing ruined wall of the medieval Great Hall.

Biocycles Dance 
at Bishop's Palace & Gardens, Wells


The sculptural theme of impermanence and natural progression can be explored across different media, giving people a chance to access the enquiry through eyes, ears, touch, movement and conversation.  To extend the idea, I partnered with Fionn Connolly to compose a reflective soundscape.  The music blends hopeful elements of guitar and piano with the cycling of my breath, birdsong recorded in westcountry woodland and Brazilian rainforest, and the spine-chilling sound of a tree coming down.  Just as life cycles, so does the soundscape.

Professional choreography

Mandy Redmond, from Adventures In Dance, formed and choreographed the Biocycles DancersAfter months' of rehearsals, they performed on the lawn of the Bishop's Palace Gardens in a torrential downpour.  Initially an anxiety-driver, the rain added to the sensuous and emotional nature of the dance.

Biocycles Dance - Part 1 (Emergence)

Biocycles Dance - Part 2 (Renewal)


“What’s the sculpture and dance about to me?  It affirms that nature will prevail, nature will grow through cracks in pavements and will come back.  It’s quite a dark time for nature now. 


But there’s also huge playfulness in the dance movement.  I can also see that in nature and that makes me optimistic."

"Everything has its time.  It’s important to notice today, to appreciate today, to enjoy today.”

Audience comments

Biocycles costume-making workshop

Dancers need something to dance in.  Something that can flow and accentuate their movements.  So, we obtained an end-of-roll fabric and created 8 sets of wrap-pants, something in between trousers and a skirt. 

creating Biocycles dance wrap pants.jpg
using leftover material to make dance outfits.jpg
workshop creating Biocycles costumes.jpg

Creative Wellbeing Workshops with Headway

The theme of natural progression, exploring cycles of growth, decay and then new growth, was explored with clients of charity Headway. 


As a way into the topic, we looked at natural progression of trees in the West Country landscape.  It used to be full of Elm trees (until Dutch Elm Disease wiped them out).  Ash trees then became a more dominant species … but these are now suffering from Ash Dieback Disease, leaving huge gaps in our countryside.  Other species will rise up, probably Sycamore, possibly more Willow.

In the Creative Wellbeing Workshops, we played with scale and mixed up different life-cycle stages of trees: seeds, seedlings, mature trees, rotting trunks and reflected on our place in the natural world.

Headway workshop tree and seedling_edited.jpg
Headway workshop output_edited.jpg
Headway workshop tree and seed.jpg

Comments from workshops with Headway : 

  • “I really like painting to music.  It’s so calming and I could do this all day.”

  • “It makes you think that even a huge tree is just part of a cycle.  So am I.”

  • “Mushrooms and fungi are really important or else there would be lots of dead stuff lying all over the place.”

  • “Why do people cut trees down without thinking?  Trees live longer than we do."

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