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Alan Franklin, 1997

Skedaddle was a large wooden skittle populated by small red houses situated within the forest in the Lewisburn.

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Constructed from approximately 6500 triangular blocks of pine and larch, Skedaddle stood twenty-one foot tall amongst a dense population of Norway spruce trees. Its form appeared to be somewhere between a giant skittle and a chess pawn. Clinging to its surface was a colony of small red wooden houses which like ants, seem to have taken possession of their host.

The artist wanted this structure to take on the grandeur of the forest site he had chosen and like a child with its building blocks, he wanted to see how high he could build. To explore and challenge the boundaries of what is possible seemed to be an unquenchable human need resulting in our greatest achievements. But the image of the child's building blocks is one of both aspiration and imminent catastrophe as the tower will surely come crashing down. It is the flip side of our every step forward, constantly confronting us with irreconcilable choices.

Built of wood, with its rich surface of pattern and colour, the skittle form shared an empathy with its surroundings. Yet the red monopoly houses were more discordant. They fitted neatly to the curved surface of the blocks which intended to make them feel like they belonged, but their redness prevented that, making their relationship with their host ambiguous. The monumental body of assembled blocks was a metaphor for the Earth or any attainable space whether real or imagined. Its physical presence was solid and immovable, yet its image was of an upright skittle ready to be toppled.

Relative to the heroic scale of the sculpture's mass, the individual houses were small and insignificant. In that way the houses were another metaphor for the human individual seen against the collective power and scope of all humanity. Simultaneously we are great and small and forever torn between the two.

All that said, the artist wanted to make a piece of work that was impressive, beautiful, life affirming, mysterious and thought provoking, but above all something that had never before existed.    

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