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This four-minute audio clip describes the sculpture Aerie by Lizzie Farey (b.1962).


Aerie 2010

Lizzie Farey (b.1962)

Museums & Galleries Edinburgh – City of Edinburgh Council

Full audio description text

This sculpture is constructed from hundreds of individual stems of natural willow, secured together to form a large circular disc shape. It measures over three metres in diameter.
The sculpture was produced in 2010 by the contemporary artist Lizzie Farey as a site-specific commission for the third-floor stairwell of the City Art Centre in Edinburgh. It is mounted flat against a white background wall, about two metres above floor level, and is installed in such a way that it appears to float magically in space. The vast scale of the sculpture, and the fact that it is displayed on its own, mean that it dominates its surroundings.
The individual willow stems within the sculpture are thin and straight, and each has been cut to a different length, between around 20 cm to 50 cm. They cross and intersect each other in a seemingly random pattern to make up the overall circular disc shape. This loose criss-cross pattern leaves gaps between the stems, allowing the white wall behind to show through. The formation also casts angular shadows on the wall. For the assembly of the sculpture, the artist used tiny nails to secure the individual stems together, but this technique is not apparent unless the sculpture is viewed close up, creating a further sense of illusionary weightlessness. The stems that constitute the centre of the disc are dark brown in colour, as are the stems on the outer edge of the disc. Between these two areas, the willow is paler shades of brown.
The title Aerie derives from the name for a large nest created by a bird of prey, such as an eagle, which is normally built at considerable height on a cliff face or mountain. The construction of the sculpture from natural willow stems and the deliberate height of its installation are intended to evoke the idea of such a nest.
The artist Lizzie Farey specialises in making sculptural forms and vessels from willow, ash, birch and other locally sourced woods. She grows her own willow crop in a field near her home in Galloway, and harvests it every winter for use in her artworks. Her connection to the natural world is an important element of her creative practice.
Farey produces willow sculptures in a range of sizes, working in both two and three dimensions. Aerie is one of her largest, and most ambitious, works. When asked about the inspiration and ideas behind this commission, she said: 'I had been making swallows and other birds out of willow and so quite quickly I thought of a nest, especially as it would be positioned quite high up. My hope was that by using natural materials I could bring something of the calmness I find in nature into the city environment, like a refuge.'

Art UK and VocalEyes

This audio description was created by VocalEyes for Art UK Sculpture, a national project to document and increase access to the UK's publicly owned sculpture. This description is one of 25 representing sculpture collections across the UK.

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