Balanced-Earth are unique. Alexander Calder has been an inspiration so they are really “plant mobiles”. To enable multiple pots to be suspended with that delightful movement caused by imbalance, the vessels had to be light-weight. The planted vessels can be rearranged within the Balanced-Earth plant mobile. The vessels can be lifted out of their frames, while the handles of the frames can be unhooked from the branch. This means that if a plant grows and the balance changes, the arrangement can be reconfigured. If some plants are further from a window, then their position can be moved by swapping with another plant.
Vessels and Frames
The vessels are made from paperpulp and other natural ingredients (read more). The recipe used produces rigid vessels which are “micro-porous”, water will evaporate through the wall of the vessel if not absorbed by the plant (like unglazed terracotta plant pots). My oldest paper-pulp vessels are over one year old, solid and suspended holding plants. They are not designed to degrade like mass produced paper pulp pots.
The vessels sit within frames. These are circular and are either bands or discs. They are made from waste materials. Each material has it’s story which is explained in Green Earth Balance (click on above link).
All the plants in the images of the Balanced-Earth mobiles are succulents, mostly trailing or compact rather that ones which grow tall (these are most likely to over-balance). These plants do not require as much water as regular plants, I’ve erred on the side of caution while experimenting. However I am now investigating other plants as I’m feeling very confident with my paper pulp vessels and their ability to cope with water. There may be plants available for purchase at the Balanced-Earth launch exhibition, otherwise the vessels are empty for you to fill with your own plants.
The Balanced-Earth mobiles are suspended, wall-mounted and freestanding. Each has been named from birds on the conservation concern red list.
Wall-mounted forms: Fieldfare, Hawfinch & Linnet
The wall-mounted style uses an oak bracket with keyhole fixtures so it will sit flush against the wall with no gapping. A hooked stainless steel rod sits within the oak bracket from which the plant mobile can be suspended. Linnet – three vessels, Hawfinch – four vessels, Fieldfare – five vessels.
Suspended forms: Starling, Lapwing, Nightingale & Skylark
The overhead suspended plant mobile can be hung directly from a ceiling or alternative overhead location. Skylark – three vessels, Nightingale – four vessels, Lapwing – five vessels, Starling – multiple vessels exceeding five.
Free-standing form: Curlew
The Balanced-Earth single vessel is not strictly speaking a “ mobile”. However the vessel is poised above the base with a stainless steel rod so it will still sway gently with a small push!
For over two years Balanced-Earth has emerged from a “compost” of interests, materials and making skills. I am now in my 50s and have worked as a creative person throughout my working life. First as a designer-maker of nylon jewellery through the 90s, exhibiting and selling internationally through galleries and museum stores. Then, when I became aware of climate change, this motivated the shift to working as an environmental sculptor using waste plastics (artwork can be found on www.axisweb.org/p/karenwhiterod/) and providing workshops in education and community settings www.footprintarts.co.uk (website needs updating, operates more as an archive presently, rather than an active website….it’s on the list!).
Needing to re-think my work-life due to health reasons I work from home. Making and thinking creatively is vital for my own well-being. The lifestyle and exercise/rest issue is connected to balance. Over the years, I have regularly returned to explore my fascination with balance and made my versions of Calderesque mobiles as a physical manifestation of this. I’ve always lived with houseplants, they are so life enhancing. Balanced-Earth has developed from this situation.
B-E Philosophy and Approach
I try to take a “do no harm” approach in my lifestyle, so I’m endeavouring to have B-E follow this philosophy. Moving out of my studio at Muspole Workshops in Norwich after 20 years I realised the quantity of materials I had accumulated. These are a mix of “waste” off-cuts from various processes, over-ordering while experimenting and suppliers having minimum order quantities. Also I’m offered scrap materials and unwanted items which I think have “potential”. Wanting to utilise the materials, which are my responsibility, gave me the challenge to find techniques to use these.