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Dorothy Wordsworth Light Sculpture - "In her own words"

· 7 min read

Dorothy Wordsworth Light Sculpture in Cockermouth for the Kirkgate Arts 'I Am Dorothy' project.

We were commissioned as part of Kirkgate Arts ' year-long ‘I Am Dorothy’ project, a programme supported by The National Lottery Heritage Fund to shine a light on Dorothy Wordsworth with a temporary Light Sculpture.

You can listen to me and Emma from Kirkgate Arts talking about the project on BBC Radio Cumbria here:

Because there are very few images of Dorothy we decided to create a portrait using her own words representing Dorothy as she would have looked to hike the fells. To do this Kirkgate Arts organised for Jessie Binns to pose in the period dress Dorothy would have worn to get our image.

The main part of the sculpture is a giant flower press representing the constraints of Dorothy's time and how - unlike her brother - very little of her poetry and prose was published, but kept locked away in her journals.

When making the plinth we realised that we didn’t have to follow convention and have a brutal cold slab of stone, so we used a mix of wood, woven hazel and willow and living plants to present Dorothy in a gentler, more welcoming way.

Massive thanks to Kirkgate Arts for giving us the opportunity to create this and to Maureen at Furness Plastics for her help to create and perfect the etched acrylic sheets.

Jennie outside the Kirkgate before the Celebratory Show

Dorothy has moved once again - now at the Kirkgate Arts Centre for the project finale event

Dorothy on stage captivating her audience

The four pixel portraits from our school session came together brilliantly

Close up of the Giant Pixel Portrait

After her winter as a street sculpture Dorothy was taken on by Wordsworth House

After a minor operation to remove the plinth, she fits perfectly in the window

Close up of Dorothy in Wordsworth House window

Our first test image to prove LEDs would light a large quantity of etched letters

Complete 30cm test version is complete

Close up of test version showing letters on different layers.

The heavy wood arrives!

Supervisor Stitch checking Jennie is aligning the sleepers correctly

Meanwhile in the shed Chris and the Robots get to work making a frame

Our DIY hanging robotic CNC machine cuts out the side panels

Stitch is unsure the sleeper plinth base is a good addition to the lounge!

Maureen at Furness Plastics excited presents us with the finished full size sheets!!!

It's all coming together now, but Stitch is still not impressed.

Hazel poles are in place ready for Jennie to weave her magic

Now it time for the endless varnishing...

Giant petticoat sewing...

... and epic basket weaving

Adding the protective screens to the varnished frame

Look at that beautiful wicker work!

The logo panel has arrived from the Maureen - celebrated by the little wax fellas

A take-away amidst the chaos

Wow the letters really pop on the final image!

She's looking marvellous all together for our light fitting tests!

Labelling to help the post-transit jigsaw speed

Dismantling to get our lounge back before Dr Who!

Bespoke potting bags being tailored by Jennie

All packed up and ready to roll!

Base completed just after sunrise in Main Street, Cockermouth

The most nerve-wracking bit before Dorothy is secured to the frame. Jennie hugs her until all is well!

The willow is on. Repeat. The willow is on.

People may not spot it, but there's detailed leatherwork hidden under the top.

The plants are in and a sneaky woollen mushroom.

Hidden wax mushrooms.

Jennie lost in Holly and Ivy weaving!

The sculpture in situ. Don't worry we'll move that van in a mo!

The plaque is on. It feels proper now.

Can you see Dorothy?

It's lovely how she fits in with the trees.

By day Dorothy blends in, but wait until you see her at night!

Side view looking up Main Street.

Surrounded by crowds on light up night