The Reincarnation Garden
Photo By Andrew Skinner
By Jonah Ogles
Shoreline Media Writer
Two weeks before thousands set foot onto the Double JJ Ranch for the second ROTHBURY, a team of volunteers and artists from across the country converged on the festival grounds.
Armed with rope, twine, hatchets, hammers, blowtorches, welding gloves, wrenches and countless other tools, they set out to create the art that was placed throughout the festival grounds.
Thomas Skiffington was just one of those volunteers. The Florida native came to ROTHBURY last year by way of Los Angeles, where he now lives.
Skiffington and a dozen others were integral in creating what they called “the Reincarnation Garden.”
The garden ran along one side of the famed Sherwood Forest. The volunteers and artists created pathways through the pine needles and collected wild flowers to scatter throughout the garden.
Skiffington helped lay out the garden. The design itself was the brainchild of Dollar Bill, an artist who was in charge of the art installations at both last year’s festival and this year’s.
Dollar Bill brought in dozens of artists in a collaborative effort Skiffington called “the Department of Visual Consciousness.” Sculptors, painters, welders and woodworkers came together to place art throughout the festival grounds.
Skiffington was a part of those efforts last year, as well. He was partly responsible for the giant “Rothbury” sculpture made out of bundled limbs, branches, sticks and twigs that stood on the hill near the main stage in 2008.
This year, Skiffington’s work was less prominent, but no less creative. And his preference for natural and recycled materials fit right in to ROTHBURY’s green ethos.
“I focus on wood,” said Skiffington. The Reincarnation Garden has a lot of wood in it. In addition to the lean-to, the pathways are lined with wood, and other volunteers worked on creating a fence out of fallen branches with leaves woven in between.
“We want to give it a look like it’s been here for 50 years,” Skiffington said.
The garden also used recycled metal that has been sculpted. There was a giant statue of Buddha as well as several abstract pieces lying around waiting to be put into their proper place.
Four days before the festival began, the garden was still incomplete. “We’ve got some hard days,” said Skiffington last Monday. “It’s crunch time.”
Once completed, though, the garden took up the entire East edge of Sherwood Forest. As people walked through, the entrance seemed to beckon them inside. Once within the garden, it was hard to get through without running into someone with a camera — taking pictures of one or another of the sculptures.
Festival goers took a break in the lean-to and in a giant pine bough teepee within the garden. Some stopped to meditate in front of the Buddha sculpture. And others just took a break in the relative peace and quiet of the garden before heading back out to a concert.
Skiffington said he couldn’t be happier with the way the garden turned out.
“It’s great,” he said. “It looks really good.”
All of those people with cameras would most definitely agree.