This Stunning Living Sculpture Changes Appearance With The Seasons And It's A Sight To Behold

This Stunning Living Sculpture Changes Appearance With The Seasons And It's A Sight To Behold

The Mud Maid looks vibrant during spring and summer and totally different during autumn and winter.

Image Source: Peter & Sue Hill

Most of Europe is like a magical world with castles and beautiful scenery, and Cornwall, in the Southwest of England, is extremely beautiful. Cornwall is also home to the Lost Gardens of Heligan. It is one of Europe’s largest garden restoration project that spans over 200 acres and is perfect for explorers, plant lovers, and romantics. Heligan is home to several well-kept secrets that are a treat to the eye, and one of them is the Mud Maid sculpture. This mesmerizing figurine was sculpted by locals Peter and Sue Hill. The siblings created this piece of art in 1997 and since then, it has become an inseparable part of The Lost Gardens’ Woodland Walk ever since.


What makes the Mud Maid special is that it is a living sculpture, which means her ‘clothes’ and ‘hair’ change with the seasons as grass, ivy, and moss grow and then wither. The Mud Maid will look completely vibrant during spring and summer and totally different during autumn and winter. The Mud Maid represents a sleeping woman and was built by crafting a hollow framework made of timber and windbreak netting. The reason for the sculpture's name is because the Hill sculptors applied sticky mud to bring it all together. The face of the beautiful sculpture is made from a mix of mud, cement, and sand.


Initially, the plan was to leave it coated in yogurt to make lichens grow. Now, the Maid’s head is full of Woodsedge and Montbretia while ivy covers her body. Back in the 18th century, the Tremayne family established The Lost Gardens of Heligan. Now, it is one of the most famous British botanical gardens. The Tremanynes had even employed around 22 gardeners to keep the estate prim and proper, according to Bored Panda. However, when World War 1 began, several gardeners went to war. But, even after the war ended, the number of gardeners diminished and the garden went into a state of disrepair. 


According to their official website: We didn’t finish her according to plan; she was supposed to have a fishy tail – a mermaid taking a nap up the valley from Mevagissey. But Candy Smit coined the name Mudmaid and so that’s who she became. There was no sympathetic rootball in this glade, so we made an armature for her from spare pieces of tanalized timber, leftover from making the Jungle boardwalk. Windbreak netting was stapled over this frame, before covering with the clay mix. We mixed a little straw and cement into the clay to help it stick, and covered the whole thing in hessian scrim. The head and hand have a stronger mix of cement in them.


Pioneer plants and algae made her their home initially followed by ivy on her body and moss on her face. We did plant some wood sedge for her hair, which produces strange brown, feathery flowers, but that has since been overtaken by the ubiquitous montbretia. In 2012 we remade her hand in hypertufa (equal parts of sand, peat, vermiculite, and cement) because frost and feet had destroyed some fingers, and we shored up the timber frame inside her. Melissa Dibble shared on Facebook: I definitely identify with the mud maid. I have laid down in the grass and imagined sleeping there forever. Nature is so calming and beautiful.


Alex Arizona shared: Year's ago holidays in Cornwall... The Lost Gardens are amazing don't want to leave... Special this scalpture so mystic and beautiful... Love this place. Jackie Taylor posted: I have a mixed emotions on this. Beautiful talent. Amazing changes in sculpture. I'm interested in it but there's a little bit of eerie feeling. Very interesting. Elizabeth Preston posted: Yes, spooky. If bursting into life in spring let the “ lady” be awakening; winter is the season of sleep and rest awaiting resurgence. Sharon Kopps wrote: This is so strange yet a haunting beauty! I would love to see it in person. Looks like a real person scary! Ann Hutchinson announced: This is one of the most magical places I've ever visited. 

Source: Peter & Sue Hill

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