Spring Glade – A rite of Spring

An Easter nest in a tree, surruonded by moss
An Easter nest in a tree, surruonded by moss

Spring Glade

Assemblage of birch twigs, gold painted eggshells, photographic portraits, floral embellishments and mirrors. Artist Clare O Hagan, 2021

Spring Glade brings together and celebrates the women in my life who I love. They nestle together in a mossy woodland glade. This group of women have accompanied me through different stages in my life from childhood to now. I salute their myriad qualities.

Making this art installation in the midst of a pandemic has given me the time to reflect on the women who influenced and inspired me. My original intention was to make an Easter wreath, but it took it’s own course and manifested itself in a shallow, bowl shaped, woodland nest. Walking regularly in a Winter Derbyshire landscape, I saw many, loosely made, chaotic looking nests atop large leafless trees, so that became the starting point for the work.

Birch is one of the first trees to come into leaf and represents the emergence of Spring. Here we see winter twigs forming the structure of a nest holding women ready to flourish in the longer, brighter days ahead. Eggs, an ancient symbol of new life, is associated strongly with Spring / Easter festivities. Here Golden Eggs signify womanhood and the joy of creativity. Gold represents power, here all women are awarded equal status as they sit happily together.

The artwork re-imagines a childhood ritual. My cousin Mary and I, as youngsters would collect Spring flowers and secret them in a mossy lined crevice at the foot of a tree in woodland. It wasn’t an entirely innocent activity as we would often help ourselves to flowers from peoples gardens to supplement our stash. During the making of this installation, Mary was admitted to hospital with Covid 19. I realised then that the nest was a protective space to hold those so dear to me.

Some of the women here I’ve never met, and I’m unlikely to meet, but their presence is felt. Some of the women here are no longer with us, and again their presence is felt. In this group of women there are many professions represented including scientists, artists, film-makers, businesswomen, educators, health professionals, actors, publishers, journalists, musicians.

Instead of naming the women, I’ll describe what it is about them that I admire greatly – resilience, creativity, common sense, leadership, activism, empathy, endurance, determination, intelligence, wit and wisdom, sense of fun, capacity to inspire joy and wonder, generosity of spirit, reliability, compansionship, leadership and love.

The nest contains mirrors, so just look into them if I’ve forgotten you, and if you want to join us, there is room for you too.

Clare O Hagan Spring 2021