Keep (2024)

Keep is a spiral walkway made of coppiced hazel poles to create a fence, rising from below the eyeline at the entrance, to a height of 2m60 at the centre. Thus, when one reaches the bench at the centre of the work, one is left alone inside the structure cut off from the outside world. The work is situated in the garden of Københavns Højskoleforening, in Vanløse, in the west of Copenhagen. This organisation was founded with the goal of furthering the educational principles of N.F.S.Grundtvig, who started the Danish Højskole movement in the mid 1800s, with the aim of offering education to agricultural labourers. The garden at Københavns Højskoleforening is the largest private garden in Copenhagen and it is being actively managed to promote biodiversity.

The experience of making House of Cards, nearly a decade ago, taught me to think about the onward life of an installation beyond the exhibition period. Like most people I am much more concerned now about considering the environmental impact of my work, and the materials I want to use are part of that. Hazel has a low carbon footprint, being a fast-growing bush/tree, and requiring minimal energy consumption in its processing, and the thinking is that the poles could be reused after the installation is dismantled for fencing or support in gardens. In using the coppicing technique, I felt I was treading in the footprints of my forebears who would have used hazel for fencing in agricultural production and this sensitive use of natural resources is something with which I identify.

The name ‘Keep’ is a reference to the innermost sanctum of medieval motte and bailey castles, but the word also features in the expression ‘to keep things to oneself.’ My work often revolves around ideas of secrecy, shame, and the division between our public and private selves. But here I am also thinking of fences and land in a broader sense; of inclusion, exclusion and seclusion, against a political climate of growing insular nationalism.