Sunday, 7 June 2009
The mystery is gradually leeching out of the crop circle phenomenon, more than twenty years after they first started appearing in the English countryside. In the beginning I, a lifelong sceptic, felt they had to be man-made. However, their sudden overnight appearance, the immaculate symmetry, the lack of human trace all engendered the faintest suspicion that an alien workforce had been dispatched by flying saucer. Or maybe some creative alignment of electro-magnetic forces, whirlwinds, sacred geometry or the fingerprint of God were at work?
In a field of oilseed rape at Clatford, Wiltshire created on 4 May.
It now appears that these magnificent fieldworks come courtesty of artists and pranksters. According to a recent article in The Guardian it began in the late 1970s with two Wiltshire watercolour artists and was picked up by London-based artists and sculptors in the mid-1990s.
In a barley field near Devizes, Wiltshire, created 24 May.
In a field of oilseed rape at Peaks Down, Swindon, Wiltshire created on 9 May.
Now a group called Circlemakers, including situationist artists and the sculptor Gavin Turk, taunt the paranormalists and spirtualists who still cling to the belief that around 20% of crop circles have no human agency. These days they openly claim to have made hundreds of crop circles but by never revealing which particular ones, they play the game that there may indeed be some inexplicable force behind them. That's cruel! But they are mad if they think they'll convince everyone that there's nothing supernatural in these rural interventions.
In a field of oilseed rape at Roundway, Wiltshire, created on 29 April.
This year has seen a new surge, twenty major formations in the Wiltshire countryside where, incidentally, farmers can offset the damage to their crops by making their fields open to tourists. It all died down in recent years for various reasons. One major operator committed suicide and another died. Bad English weather prevailed. Then interestingly, the pranksters suddenly realised they could command massive sums by creating logo crop circles for multinational companies like Nike, Pepsi, Sky and Mitsubishi. It all makes you appreciate this new crop which look more ambitious and more unearthly than ever.
Top: Kingston Coombes, Oxfordshire. All Photographs courtesy PIN