The sculptural play huts devised by Alastair Heseltine are formed from pliable cedar branches cast off from logging operations and woven in a manner reminiscent of ‘wattling’, an ancient technique of fence and wall construction found throughout the UK. The stately urn-shaped huts vary in their height and width according to the natural spring of the stripped green boughs as they are held taut and rooted by metal armatures. In following the arc of a sapling from foundation to peak, and in tracing how it is joined with others, one observes the strength and integrity of these contingent structures. Laid out in a small village with a meandering gravel path, the dwellings introduce a quiet sense of ceremony to the rooftop level of the Centre. The boughs are bundled at the base, creating curved doorways to the domed interiors. Within the protection of the enclosures, one may hide or seek, spy on the outside spaces, and gaze up through a chimney-like opening to see framed views of the sky. Curtained by the textures and scents of the forest, small gatherings and quiet conversations are given room. These shelters introduce the unique and irregular variations of things that grow to the echoing curves and precise angles of the surrounding hardscape. As the elements weather the cedar, and the seasons are coloured by change, the timelessness and endurance of these forms remain.
Based on Hornby Island, Alastair Heseltine works with mixed media relating to the environment. His formal choices are guided by the inherent nature of the material, and by construction methods discovered through mindful observation and play. Design, craft production, farming and the routines of rural life supports and inspires his practice.