Creating an Eco-sculpture
The starting point for a three-dimensional eco-sculpture begins with drawings and a technical design. A series of small working models – known as "maquettes" – are then created from wire. These allow the artist to test the form and balance of the proposed structure while offering a preview of the final product to others involved in the project.
Once this initial phase is complete, a full-scale, three-dimensional frame is made from non-corrosive or treated metal. This is trickier than it sounds: The frame must be constructed in accordance with strict building standards so it can withstand whatever Mother Nature throws at it. More important, it must remain solid and stable when filled with thousands of pounds of damp soil. In the case of Parsley, the manufacturing process took six weeks.
Soil requirements and the amount of available "skin" area are carefully calculated as the horticultural maps out a blueprint (or "planting pattern") incorporating the various plants that will define the sculpture’s features. Based on a formula of 400 plants per square metre, Parsley required 4,000 plugs while each salmon eco-sculpture needed twice that many.
The task of fleshing out the sculpture begins when the frame is filled with a soil mix and covered with porous landscaping fabric. The planting pattern is then marked on the filled and covered eco-sculpture. A "dibble stick" is used to poke a hole, roughly the size of the plant plug, through the filter fabric and into the moist, compacted soil. The plant is then inserted into the hole. This process is repeated again and again until the sculpture is completely covered with plants.
Water and sun now do their job over the ensuing weeks as the sculpture slowly takes shape and its features emerge. Soil moisture measurements are critical at this stage. So, too, is clipping and pruning as different plants grow at their own unique schedules.