Just over 400 years ago an infamous witch trial took place in Pendle, England. Last year, a group of artists were asked to commemorate the anniversary of the hanging of the ten innocents accused of practising witchcraft. Artist Philippe Handford, in a moment of pure inspiration as far as I am concerned, used a sad example of modern day vandalism to reconnect with the cruelty of yesteryear victimisation of the supposed supernatural.
Along the forest trail where the Pendle Sculpture Park is situated, several trees had been illegally felled, the criminals hacking the tree down and leaving the trunks where they fell. Cut down cruelly and irresponsibly, just as the victims of the witch trials, Handford decided to reconnect them. The result is both startling and contemplative.
Reconnected 1 and 2, as the works are known, see the stump and trunks recoupled with the aid of ingenious metal frames, almost surgical in appearance, which form a kind of spine for the trees. It is almost as if they are frozen in time at the very moment they were felled.
The frames brought their own challenges to the artist and depended on accurate measurement of dimensions and a detailed survey of the site. The trunk was sliced before Handford designed the supportive framed arrangement. Each trunk slice is buoyed by a bracket that was then bolted to the frame. The two ends of the curved steel were welded to a ring that fits the profile of the trunk exactly. It is as measured as bespoke tailoring.