Laura Ellen Bacon sits in front of her sculpture, which is made of willow and wraps around a tree

Sculptor Laura Ellen Bacon installs a new work on the University of Warwick campus

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The British sculptor Laura Ellen Bacon (born 1976) transforms raw, predominately natural materials into large-scale artworks in both interior and landscape settings. Her sculptures, which have been described as “monumental yet intimate”, “frenzied yet calm”, embrace, surround or engulf architectural and natural structures. Previously, the artist’s work has been seen in places such as Chatsworth, Somerset House, New Art Centre and Saatchi Gallery.

From 22 May – 14 Jun, Laura Ellen Bacon, installed a new site-specific sculpture, Don’t Let Go, on the University of Warwick campus in Coventry. Weaving, knotting and assembling willow on site, the artist created an abstract form built around a tree situated along Warwick Arts Centre’s Follow that Hare: Art and Nature Trail. This new sculpture is intended to provide, within its grooves and crevices, a habitat for insect life.

Insects are a vital component in the biodiversity in terrestrial ecosystems, playing a number of roles – from degrading or consuming leaves, wood, carrion and dung to dispersing fungi and providing an important food source for other animals. Laura Ellen Bacon describes her new work as resembling a ‘colony’ of life forms either clinging to and multiplying on the tree, or pouring from it. These forms may be interpreted as supportive, similarly to the tree’s own root structure; or as parasitic, such as a climbing vine or fungus. Overall these separate yet inter-connected forms provide a visual representation of the complexity of an ecosystem, within which destruction and decay is symbiotically linked with nutrition and procreation. This artwork, built around – yet separate to – a tree will in time degrade and decompose, a process supported by the insects currently living within it.

Laura Ellen Bacon’s newly commissioned work represents an exciting addition to Follow that Hare: An Art and Nature Trail. Follow that Hare is a 6km circular walking route across the University campus. This trail incorporates permanent artworks from the University of Warwick Art Collection as well as the 1997 sculpture, Acrobats, by Barry Flanagan, which is on loan to the University until Sep 2019. Nestled amid the trees, perched on the verge of a cricket pitch or overlooking a lake, these sculptures have been situated in under-explored areas of the campus, inviting discovery. Details of the trail is provided on a beautifully hand-drawn map by the illustrator Helen Cann with information about flora and fauna that can be discovered along the way provided by local naturalist, Steven Falk. The map is now available for collection from Warwick Arts Centre, or you can download a copy from the website.

For more information about visual arts on campus and beyond, click here.

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