Monuments of the Past
My illustrated story which was awarded ‘Second Prize’ in the sixth annual ‘Fairy Tales’ competition run by Blank Space.
The winners were chosen by a jury of more than 20 leading architects, designers and storytellers.
My story was inspired by climate change and how we currently take the beauty of our planet for granted. My desire was to represent this issue through a story that makes us wonder what life could be like in a future where mother nature and her resources have diminished before our eyes. A world where parents have to tell their children stories of what forests, mountains and grass fields where once like. My vision for this future environment was a series of over-scaled structures that hoist man made landscapes into the sky. These structures represent the monuments of our past.
January 17th, 2119 Sunrise. 6.03am
I tell my son stories of what it was like to climb the mountains on Earth whilst we watched the sunrise over Monument 37. Forests have vanished. Mountains are covered in dust. The colour of nature a century ago, now non-existent. Reaching 100 years since the rapid decline of forests & all natural elements, Governments across the world came together to create an array of architectural megastructures to hoist man made landscapes into the sky. Thousands of people now flock from all over to experience what nature on earth was once like. Our children of this generation can only imagine what living earth was once like. For hundreds of years the human race took Mother Nature and her resources for granted. She was diminishing in front of our eyes. Hectares of forests gone, land cleared for cattle grazing, cities expanded and urbanization consumed the natural landscape. We ignored the initial signs of climate change and when we took it seriously it was already too late. The green began to diminish and the dust started to flow as earth slowly began to resemble the Martian landscape.
Early morning. 7.15am
We depart and descend down the cliff face. Suddenly, our feet begin to tremble and the red dust around us starts to move. A giant gust of wind hits us as courier V34 passes overhead, delivering what appears to be part of a manufactured forest, to a nearby Monument. These man made trees above us appear to tower into the sky, they remind me of the last few remaining redwoods that I was lucky enough to visit as a child. The nostalgia kicks in as we watch it pass by. The powerful, bunkeresque vessels are designed to carry hectares of landscapes at a time, whilst providing people with scenic flights to the artificial landscapes. The trees are delivered to specific monuments where the tradition of forest bathing or shinrin-yoku continues. Being in the presence of the trees back when Earth was flourishing and in particular, its forests, was said to impose an array of health benefits and overall well-being. As the inhabitants of earth, we can only dream of experiencing what the Japanese once spoke of as bridging the gap between us and the natural world. We are now confined to our oxygen supply and can only try and reclaim the memories of what it was like to breathe in the fresh air of the trees.
We approach one Monument dedicated to the green mountains of the past Icelandic landscape. My son has never been here before. He will witness being among the vibrant valleys and ranges that I frequently speak of.
For the first time together we embark on an adventure inside this museum of natural landscapes. We must stay on the path because the soil adjacent to us is contaminated. We look up and see a fleet of couriers and scenic flight vessels heading to the artificial mountain tops. This Monument was said to be one of the first ever built. Its external walls clearly show its age and wear. Millions have stayed and inhabited its interior over the past few decades. Although it is said the buildings rooms are small and uncomfortable, people will happily endure their stay in order to wake up with what appears to be living landscapes. My son turns to me and says “dad, can we stay here tonight?” I hesitate to respond as I don’t want to disappoint him. These monuments are at full capacity for years in advance. So I tell my son “Maybe not today, but one day I promise”. He puts his head down, let’s go of my hand and continues to walk towards the over scaled architecture that awaits us.
As we ascend up the monument, we can already hear distant voices of excitement. As we step out of the lift shaft, the landscape stares us in the face and diminishes into the horizon. My son is silent. His eyes wide open. A museum of mountains, hills and farm land is grouped together into a visual and spatial experience recapturing Mother Nature. My son walks forward in awe. I have to hold him back. We embark on our journey through the landscape, strictly on the platform as we were told we can look, but not touch. We don’t know what materials these landscapes have been built from. We have so many paths ahead we can choose from. My son heads towards the path on the right. I can see why, the platform there appears to be the most populated as it is positioned across from the base of the largest mountain top that reaches into the clouds.
After an exhausting but thrilling day for both my son and I, we follow our path home over the dunes. He is running with joy, excited from experiencing what natural earth once was like. Suddenly, my son diverts from the path and runs. I rush towards him as he has stepped foot onto the contaminated and toxic soil. Despite being told that walking off the path could be fatal, I chase after him. I see his silhouette crouching in the distance. I turn on my flashlight only to see what I thought couldn’t be true. What looks like a plant reaches out from the dust. Could this be real?