The Wensleydale Vessel
& The 26 lost inkwells
Hidden Secrets Sculpture Trail
The Dales Countryside Museum, Wensleydale
In 2012 I installed two pieces for a new sculpture trail being installed at The Dales Countryside Museum in Hawes, Wensleydale.
The museum is housed in the former Hawes train station building and even has a steam engine with carriages still on the tracks. The carriages have been converted into display spaces and this is where I found myself utterly captivated by a tray of old school inkwells.
They would have all been identical white china when first purchased; however over years of use in the classroom each is now different, telling its own unique history through the beautiful colours, cracks, chips and marks on its surface. The wooden tray at the museum contains 14 inkwells with space for another 26 but there are no more in the museum archives. This leads one to wonder where they have gone and creates the opportunity to ‘find’ them.
All along the sculpture trail are hidden the 26 missing inkwells, with the notion that they have been lost in the Dales. Found in strange places, each revealing subtle marks and textures, I wish for them to be a starting point for narrative and conversation as visitors create their own stories of where the inkwells have been all these years.
The Wensleydale Vessel
The Sculpture embodies the Landscape
It contains the Landscape
A Vessel, an Inkwell
Upturned the Landscape trickles out, carving a path
Journeying down the old bones
Eventually seeping back into the earth
I would like to thank the children from Hawes Primary School who took part in a creative writing session with poet and writer Char March, producing some fantastic imagery about where they live. I chose extracts from the poems which I felt brought the landscape alive and carved these into the railway sleeper plinth and path. The children enjoyed seeing their words become part of the sculpture trail, and by using their creative writing, links back to the school inkwells that first captured my imagination.
I hope the work encourages visitors to explore the museum more closely, finding those wonderful hidden stories within the collections and creating a deeper connection and understanding of the area’s history.