One of the most impressive low level features at Glamis Adventure Playground is the monster. This mighty mosaic houses the sand pit and water feature and is an incredibly attractive work of art in its own right.
By the looks of things, the monster was created through an earthbag construction or similar approach. This is a natural building technique which can be used for quickly creating a variety of structures including houses.
According to Sharon Danks, author of Asphalt to Ecosystems,
“Sand or soil can be shaped into sinuous benches and walls using “earth bag” construction techniques. Sandbags are filled with soil or sand and then stacked in overlapping layers like builder’s bricks. The bags are pinned in place with a metal rebar and wrapped tightly with a layer of chicken wire. A thin coating of concrete applied to the chicken wire creates a durable and weatherproof exterior that can be embellished with incised patterns, tile mosaics, or pigments.”
As you can see, the technique does allow for a lot of flexibility in terms of the shape of a feature. I really like the way the legs extend into the sand pit, creating little pockets for playing in. The undulating back ridge is a challenge in itself to walk along. For me, this is a fantastic open-ended border.
The work on the monster first began in 2008. A local mosaic artist, Esther Maria Sealy, supported the playground community to make it. According to Mark, the senior play worker,
“The base is made from rubble – all sorts of stuff. This was then coated with cement and the decoration was added with the help of kids, staff, parents and others.”
It took several months, with the monster finally being completed in 2009. You get an idea of just how big it is when you see the bath tub in the photo above.
The detail of mosaic on the monster is quite extraordinary. As well as tiles, pebbles, glass beads, mirrors and other material was used. So as you walk along the monster, every bit is unique and different.
The monster is bearing up well to the heavy use by children.
“It has cracked in a couple of places and some of the tiles and marbles have disappeared, but considering the use and abuse it gets, it has stood the test of time very well.” said Mark.
It was surprisingly grippy to walk along. Although it was a dry day, so I’m not so sure how slippery it will get in wet weather.
Finally thanks again to Mark and Christine, the Glamis Play Workers for their patience with my questions and queries about the place, the monster, signs and everything else. Donations to Glamis Adventure Playground (aka the Shadwell Community Project) are always well-used and much appreciated.