MOTHER... at Wicken Fen by Studio Morison

MOTHER... artwork at Wicken Fen, inspired by traditional fen hayricks

MOTHER... is a new artwork by Studio Morison, inspired by the restorative qualities of the beautiful fen landscape as described in Richard Mabey's book 'Nature Cure', and childhood memories of visiting the Fens and the Wash.

MOTHER … was erected in October 2019, initially with planning permission for one year. Due to the pandemic interrupting normal visiting in 2020, we extended its planning for another 12 months so that more people could find it and enjoy a moment of calm and a new way of looking out at the surrounding landscape.  It is now due to be de-installed at the end of September 2021, so do make sure you plan your route to take in this unique feature while it is still here.  The 30 minute walk to MOTHER… from our Visitor Centre takes you along Wicken Lode, and along Moore’s Drove, a raised bank, with its views across Baker’s Fen and maybe some of our grazing herds.

MOTHER… a new artwork by artists Heather Peak and Ivan Morison (of Studio Morison) has been commissioned by Cambridgeshire based Wysing Arts Centre as part of the region-wide arts commissioning programme, New Geographies. New Geographies aims to bring contemporary art to unexpected places in the East of England. All locations for art works were nominated by members of the public and we are delighted that Wicken Fen was selected as one of the 270 nominated sites.

MOTHER… is a sculptural structure, a pavilion, that creates a new space in which you can contemplate nature and read or write within. It is inspired by writer Richard Mabey’s book ‘Nature Cure’, in which he recovers from severe depression through walking, watching and writing about the Eastern region’s beautiful and unexplored landscapes, and Heather’s childhood memories of visiting the landscapes of the Fens and the Wash. Ivan Morison explains why they chose to title their work MOTHER...

"The ellipsis after MOTHER... suggests the omission of a second word to be added by the viewer: MOTHER EARTH connects to ideas of the natural world, its supporting qualities, but also our own responsibilities and personal connections to it; MOTHER LAND connects us to the place we belong, within this landscape, within a community, within a country. These are important and powerful ideas by which we define our identities; MOTHER SHIP makes us think of the sculpture as a vessel that might take us places - this could be on an imaginary journey around the solar system; or it could be a journey connecting the past with an imagined future - making the work a time machine of sorts, or it could be a journey within our own minds - a rehabilitative journey from upset to calm. Finally, a key reference for the artists is the song Mother, from IDLES debut 2017 album Brutalism - a song that expresses an anger and frustration at the modern world, and its impact on our individual and family lives.

The sculpture offers a space to reflect on these troubling thoughts as well as an opportunity to perhaps still the mind for a while by focussing on the simple material qualities of the work, and the changing nature of the landscape that surrounds it."  Ivan Morrison, artist.

View through the aperture in the wall of MOTHER...
MOTHER... art installation view through wall aperture
View through the aperture in the wall of MOTHER...

MOTHER… references local building traditions, materials and architectural vernacular to root the structure in the very landscape it is a part of: the timber framing is felled and milled by the artists, the walls and roof are thatched from the local straw, and the form is an interpretation of the remarkable hayricks once found dotting this countryside. The work, with its deep entranceways, ceiling oculus and high double layered conical ceiling, is an architectural space to enter; re-framing visitors’ experience of the landscape of Wicken Fen, the sky, the light and the materials that surround them.

MOTHER... art installation, looking up through the ceiling opening
MOTHER... art installation at Wicken Fen looking up from the inside through the oculus
MOTHER... art installation, looking up through the ceiling opening

A programme of events will take place at the structure in early 2020.  Details will follow soon.

How to reach MOTHER…

The Wicken Hayrick is located just off Moore’s Drove on the edge of Baker’s Fen, approximately 1 mile from the Visitor Centre.  Follow the Adventurers’ Trail from the Visitor Centre, turning left after Norman’s Bridge and taking the first path on the right onto the raised path known as Moore’s Drove.  You will find MOTHER… on the right-hand side after approximately 500 metres, set back from the path.  
Our friendly Visitor Centre team will be happy to give you a map showing the location of MOTHER… and point you in the rights direction.
Please note that Moore’s Drove can be very muddy, so wellies are recommended in wet weather. The grassy path is quite uneven.  For this reason, the route to MOTHER… is not suitable for buggies or wheelchairs.