An internationally renowned Northland sculptor is building an artwork in a Dutch sculpture park which he describes as a homage to the planet's greatest recyclers - fungi.
Chris Booth is due to complete the commission this Friday in Vijversburg Park near Leeuwarden, capital of the northern province of Friesland. When finished the artwork will stand 7m tall. It consists of a circular tower of carefully sawn branches, sourced from the park, arranged in interlocking layers, then capped with a large boulder.
As the wood decays the boulder will slide down a central post until, about 50 years from now, it reaches the ground. It is one of a series of "living sculptures" the Kerikeri artist has been building since the 1990s. Mr Booth said he wanted to make something that fitted in to the surrounding forest.
"It's a celebration of the greatest recycler on the planet, fungi, and it honours the comings and goings of nature, which includes the people of this area," Booth said
By breaking down dead wood, fungi made nutrients available to the next generation of trees as well as to people growing food, he said.
He hoped the slow-moving sculpture would encourage people to slow down and think long-term.
"I'll be in my grave before the boulder reaches the ground," Booth said.
The artwork is not Booth's first for the park. In 2003, after winning a contest in the US, he was invited to build a living sculpture for a kinetic art exhibition. However, a few years later the surrounding forest was cut down, making the ground swampy and unstable. Eventually the sculpture collapsed and he was asked to build another, using the same principles but on a concrete base.
Vijversburg Park manager Audrey Stielstra said Booth's original sculpture was one of the most popular in the park.
"It was a beautiful artwork by an international artist. It's good for our name to have him here and it was a real pity the old one collapsed."
Ms Stielstra said having a work by Booth also gave Vijversburg a connection with one of Europe's top sculpture parks. After completing the original work Booth was invited to build a sculpture at the world-renowned Kroller-Muller Museum, also in the Netherlands. That sculpture was built in 2003-05 with help from a group of Kerikeri residents.
The new work is called Varder IV, from a Nordic word for cairn, and is being built with help from a park intern and members of a brain injury support group who collect and saw the wood.
The beech and oak branches used in the sculpture come from trees felled in a storm three years ago.
The boulder, found on a nearby farm, was deposited by a glacier many millennia ago and is a so-called zwerfkei or "wandering boulder".
The 30ha, trust-owned Vijversburg Park was created in 1892 after death of a wealthy landowner who wanted to create a "park for the people" combining art and nature. Its exhibitions are free.
Next month Booth will travel to Hungary where he has been invited to take part in an exhibition of environmental art in Budapest.