After seeing Eliasson’s work, I felt an urge to work in some way with ice; i didn’t know what exactly i wanted to do with it i just knew i needed to do it quickly, so i went to the pub and asked for a bag of ice cubes, which i then decided to photograph in various spontaneous ways.
“Twelve immense blocks of ice, harvested as free-floating icebergs from a fjord outside Nuuk, Greenland, were arranged in clock formation at the Place du Panthéon, where they melted away from 3 to 12 December 2015, during COP21.
Ice weight: 80 tonnes
Origin: Nuup Kangerlua fjord outside Nuuk, Greenland
Transport: Organised by Group Greenland / Greenland Glacier Ice, the ice was collected by divers and dockworkers from the Royal Arctic Line and then transported in six refrigerated containers from Nuuk to Aalborg, Denmark by container ship and to Paris by truck.
Carbon footprint: 30 tonnes CO2e. A PDF with further details is available for download in the press section below.
He imagined the work as a way of making the fragility and decay of the Arctic visible, not to mention tangible: “You stand in front of the ice, and then you can touch it.” Now, it also feels like a strange and unexpected homage to Paris itself.
If Ice Watch Paris does go ahead (Eliasson hopes to know in the next few days), it will inevitably become about the survival of culture as well as the peril of nature.
“The ice has this very strong poetic quality. It gives you that space to reconsider, somehow. I think there is something very touching about it. It’s incredibly beautiful. And the physical impact this big piece of ice has on your body is really intense. You’ll see children hugging it, even tasting it …”
Ice Watch Paris is intended as a memorial to the Arctic. “The ice we are going to put in Paris is a tenth of what melts in a second in the Greenland summer.” It is a way to make the data real, to make the facts emotionally potent.
And yet, this silent, sombre hunk of ice would surely resonate with the numbed feelings of a city in shock (ISIS). If it goes ahead, it will be both a call to action on the climate and a gathering place, a shared moment, for a wounded city. “Does what you’re looking at accept you and reflect your emotional need?” asks Eliasson. “I am feeling afraid. Does it reflect my fear? If it’s a great work of art, it hosts people.”
If there’s any artist whose work seems appropriate to Paris right now it is Eliasson. His awe-inspiring installations are not afraid to play on our psychological connection with the natural world. His extraordinary creation of a sun inside Tate Modern appealed to our ancient impulse to worship our mother star. It created a community of contemplation, a natural wonder in the city.
Nature becomes culture in his work, and its marvels are brought into urban settings where we can hold and share and be moved by them. Perhaps in some unplanned way, the presence of such a spectacle on Place de la République will be consoling as well as challenging. For the ability to wonder at nature is itself a defining quality of civilisation.”
I’m interested in the idea of using ice and/or focusing on extremes in weather. I am interested in how the weather is something so devoid of any emotion; it is something which has always existed and been under inspection by man and yet it is largely unaffected by emotions which seem so real down on earth. It is also far more powerful than man and can be disastrous; it can tear lives apart, bring entire cities down, cause floods, hurricanes. These big blocks of ice stuck out for me because they are so monstrous and alien-like in such a juxtaposing environment; they look fearless, bold and completely perhaps emotionless. This is emphasised by the fact that they have been transported from Greenland into a different country. This reminds me of a quote I read in the book ‘Sticky Sublime’ by Bill Beckley that I cannot remember word for word unfortunately, but it was about how a culture feels confident in itself only when it is isolated from the rest of the world, i.e. it will function properly with routine and its own traditions, followed with confidence, but when it exposes itself to the rest of the world it will suddenly lose that confidence -continuing to function, but without the sureness that it once held. I think that these ice blocks relate to this quote because they expose viewers from an urban environment -possibly an urban life- to nature. The buildings that surround these viewers may have felt overwhelming before, but they are comfortable and farmiliar and belong with their lifestyle. However, now these ice blocks have been placed in this urban environment, it creates a discomfort, an insecurity about ones lifestyle. It poses questions about why we have created these urban built up environments on a place that was once pure nature. It creates a weakness and uncertainty in the culture. These products of nature make one feel humble as a viewer; the great size of these blocks make you feel very small in comparison, putting an emphasis on the finitude and fragility of human life. As a viewer, you have to move around the sculptures. You forge your route based around the space taken up by these solid and unmoving blocks, giving the blocks a domination over you. These art pieces suit the idea of the sublime in this sense. This is a theme I intend on delving deeper into; the exploration of the sublime and overwhelming natural world; one which makes human life feel very small and humble in comparison. I think that the use of the urban environment I now live in would make sense to use. It is so built up it becomes natural. It is seeing trees placed with precision that feels uncomfortable and unnatural.
Yesterday, we had our first of two days of an artist workshop with Alia Bas. We headed into a room in Tate Britain and were set a task in a group of three to empty the contents of our bags and arrange them in order of weight. My group and I arranged them so that the heaviest items were concentrated into the corner as though pulled by gravity, while the lighter objects were far more spread out across the floor.
Something about this explosion-like idea excited me; it seemed to be a release of tension. I find it very difficult to delve straight into a project with an ability to focus for prolonged periods, or delve straight into something that requires precision and complex planning. I enjoyed the physical aspect of this task and the ability to bounce ideas with my partners; this itself felt slightly like a release. It felt messy and thus exciting and experimental.
Today, we were instructed to carry on a project from one of the many and develop it. I decided to choose this project, focusing on some form of tension/ explosion.
The first decision to make was what I would make this explosion out of and thus what form it would take. The material was difficult to choose because there were so many possibilities running through my mind; I considered an explosion of pencils or crayons, where those in the centre would be crumbled up under the weights of this gravitational pull. I also considered having a sheet of something i.e. plastic from a bin liner pulled back/ roped back to a surface with the appearance that something underneath was trying to force its way out.
I looked in the workshops and the shop for materials, but I ended up deciding it’d be most straight forward to take a found bin liner and use that; I found it made sense not to overthink materials and become overwhelmed by possibilities at first but rather work with what is available, or else I can never find the ‘right’ thing and struggle to start.
I placed a few found materials i.e. a golf ball, paper and a strand of wood into a black bin liner and tied up a small section at the end with white masking tape, trying to make it appear full to the point of bursting by filling it also with air. I fastened this with masking tape so that there was a small ball of inflated bin liner and the rest of the bin liner seemingly burst out the other end. I then burnt the ends of this part of the bin liner to create a gradual disintegration of the plastic so that the ball of ‘tension’/ the section full of air, it would be clean, perfect plastic with creases where the bag had been pulled tight, until gradually towards the end it morphs into burnt black crisp-like material, hardened and manipulated by the flame.
Initially, I wasn’t pleased with it because it had no particular shape and was instead just a mass of black plastic. However, after giving my presentation I pinned it up against the wall to give it more of a feeling of an explosion, and now I am pleased with the piece. It doesn’t look like an explosion as such but the form captures the weight of the ball I created at the bottom.
I am interested in all of the different textures in the plastic and the sense of weight at the bottom of the bin liner.
I think the concept of tension and release has to do with an anxiety that I often feel in certain environments, including in the studio, where I find that there are so many distractions. I think the fact that this task was very open but had a time limit of an hour inflicted this anxiety I felt which thus drew me towards the idea oft the explosion; the releasing of tension. I feel like if I had been given no time limit, I wouldn’t have felt this anxiety and thus the idea of exploding tension most likely wouldn’t have appealed so much to me. This could be something I work with in the future; time constraints and boundaries that force me to work in problems solving ways under a slight pressure.
I think that the form works quite well with this piece. The package-like bag at the bottom doesn’t look so full to the point of bursting anymore, it looks firmly and purposefully sealed, a though it contains something weighted and important. I feel like with this taken into considerayion, the ‘wave’ like forms that appear almost to be stretching out of this bag are somewhat demonic, almost. The complete blackness, harsh textures and suggestivity given from the tight white seal add to this. It looks, even, like a regular bin bag spurting out waste.
I’d like to do some observational sketches of the details of this piece, I think, seeing as I rekindled my appreciation for this art form.
The first task we did was to focus on an element in the room and write or draw about it for twenty minutes. I chose a tiny crack in the wall. I wrote firstly an emphasised story about how the crack came about:
I then sketched them:
I found the whole process incredibly meditative, paying so much attention to a tiny yet beautiful detail we so often completely overlook.
The Mind at Night: The New Science of How and Why We Dream by Andrea Rock
“Give us 1,000 dreams collected over a couple if decades and we can give you a psychologyical profile that is almost as individualised and accurate as fingerprinting.” Whie some argue that dreaming has no purpose, others oargue that the dreaming process itself plays a role in regulating our moods.
We dream every night if our brains are functioning normally, although we only recall a fraction of those internalised dramas. In lucid dreaming, we can learn to control our dreams and what happens next.
REM: the brain chemicals that are circulating in abundance are different from those during waking. this dramatically altered operating environment can allow us to make out-of-the-box mental connections that’d be rejected by the logical areas of the brain in waking life. this can give dreams their nonsensical quality which may explain why many artists and scientists claim to have come up with breaking concepts in dreams.
dreams may answer the question of what separates us from animals.
Gay Gaer Luce on the state of slepe and dream research 1965 “for the first time, science in gaining a glimmer of the miraculou machinery of the mind that times when it is speaking only to itself. It is not oblivion that is studied in the exploration of sleep, but the entire realm of man’s mental being.”
Today I visited Towner Gallery’s exhibition ‘Towards Night’; here follows the official description:
Sixty artists explore the nocturnal.
Curated by Tom Hammick.
The evening hour too gives us the irresponsibility which
darkness and lamplight bestow. We are no longer quite ourselves.
– Virginia Woolf, Street Haunting: A London Adventure, 1930
Towards Night is an exhibition exploring the nocturnal through paintings, prints and drawings by over sixty artists. Drawing on the nineteenth century European Romantic tradition, the show surveys contemporary and historical connections to wonderment and dystopia at dusk, twilight, night and dawn.
Towards Night juxtaposes key paintings and prints by Constable, Friedrich, Munch, Nolde, Palmer and Turner, some of the best known visionaries of the Romantic tradition with contemporary artists who work with the transformative aspects of nightfall to convey emotional responses of awe, anxiety and solitude, love and loss, revelry, insomnia, and journey’s end.
The exhibition opens with direct and positive responses to the natural world; Marc Chagall’s exotic dreamlike evening in The Poet Reclining (1915) sits close to eighteenth century Indian miniatures depicting brightly painted
figures offset against darkening monsoon clouds, and William Crozier’s Balcony at Night, Antibes (2007), of a plant, blue and iridescent against the cool night sky.
As the exhibition progresses, the dystopias become darker and more disturbing, and the connections between artists and works intensify: Emma Stibbon’s Rome Aqueduct (2011) takes on a heightened sense of pathos alongside Caspar David Friedrich’s Winter Landscape (1811); Peter Doig’s cinematic Echo Lake (1998) conjures up an increased sense of contemporary angst; and Prunella Clough’s False Flower (1993), a magical tree defying brutalism by growing out of concrete, becomes more miraculous near Night Shift (2015) Nick Carrick’s tomblike high rise. Tom Hammick’s Violetta Alone (2015) and Michael Craig Martin’s Ash Tray (2015), reinforce hedonistic aspects of night-time revelry alongside Four AM, Betsy Dadd’s young woman drinking in the early hours of the morning and L.S. Lowry’s drunken people in a pub in The Crowd (1922). In the final room, a cluster of works explores dreams and insomnia, from Louise Bourgeois’ Spirals (2010) to Munch’s lovers embracing in The Kiss (1902).
Tom Hammick, curator of the show said “This exhibition has grown way beyond its original conception, to become a magnificent survey of painting and printmaking from over two hundred years based around the central tenet of night. The exhibition is a kind of painterly response to the way figurative artists use their artistic heroes as starting points for their own work, both compositionally and emotionally.”
Hammick expands on the concept behind the exhibition: “The blanket dark of night is a parallel universe for the senses. This upside down world recalibrates what can seem important in the daytime. Rules and concerns are often opposite, cut loose from the everyday, from repetition, responsibility, the flatness of daily routine and the flatness of an even light. Here instead, mystery, detached passion, yearning, the poetry of love and loss, sadness, fear and anxiety are often heightened. The language of the senses at night is explored by these artists.
The exhibition is arranged into theme narratives starting in room one with Evening Light, moving through Metaphorical Landscapes in room two, Contemporary Angst and Journeys into Night in room three, City and Revelry in room four and in the final room, Dreams, Insomnia and Moonlight.
Christiane Baumgartner – Wald bei Colditz II (above).
Baumgartner is known for her monumental woodcuts taken from her own video stills. She is interested in the contrast between the modern and sometimes distanced process of shooting digital video and the physicality of creating prints using ancient woodcutting techniques. She also discusses how the centuries-old, labour-intensive process of cutting a printing block from wood offers space for reflection on the fleeting moments that were captured in the original video image with such immediacy. By combining two seemingly opposing mediums, notions of time, movement and transition are embedded within the artist’s conceptually rich prints.
I found this piece incredibly suggestive; you cannot work out exactly what is happening inside the image, creating a sense of mystery and intrigue; very little was given away. as a viewer, you feel as though you are being held back. Yet you can tell that it is a woodland area and that it was filmed on an old video camera; i think this uncertainty and feeling of danger and being hidden hints that the piece relates to WWII, as it does. the artist says “I quite like that it brings this meaning to this piece of the forest… Colditz is a kind of a small triumph against the Nazis“. To bring this style into my own art (which I am not sure as to whether it will follow the same topic as my work did previously: tying the relationship between time and memories), i feel it would be interesting to film with this same grainy and suggestive effect; perhaps a recording of a place whilst someone (i.e. myself) is reciting a memory which would be heard over the top. The effect of this would be that a sense of distance would be created in the vision of the memory, portraying the grainy nature of memory.
George Shaw – The Next Big Thing
“‘The Next Big Thing’ forms part of what has become a series of paintings of landmarks no longer there. The pile of rubble is all that remains of a pub called ‘The Hawthorn Tree’. The pub itself appears in a painting of mine from 1999 called ‘The Hawthorn Tree’, and also as a ruin in a painting called ‘The Age of Bullshit’ in 2010. The pub sat in the Tile Hill Estate, and I went there frequently with my dad. Neither the pub nor my dad are here anymore. The land is now a housing estate of it’s own.”- George Shaw
This relates to my concept of time and memory as he is portraying locations which hold memories, nostalgia and emotion. I was drawn to the muted colours of this piece. I think I liked it because it reminds me of a place I sometimes walk by near my home, where an old derelict building has recently been pulled down and is currently being built up again. The colours and scene feel very winter-like and familiar to me, yet humble and bleak; the beauty in mundane realism. The whole piece is quite still and atmospheric. He has captured part of the urban development that one would not usually focus on; indeed that many would prefer to look away from. Yet personally I am very drawn to this state, where the building has been destroyed and is left lying. There’s something very powerful, even intimidating, about this mass of stuff. It is not pristine nor polished. Nothing is positioned in order to please to the eye. It is very real. Even the wired fencing, bent and damaged, it’s really very raw. I think the shadows falling over these materials due to the night time create this intimidation through the way that the forms are reduced heavily to large encompassing shapes; it becomes almost like a huge beast held back behind a fence. Now even the trees behind the destructed building become long spiky threas, especially due to the way that they are positioned smallest to largest, as though they are creeping closer and closer. I think the fact that it is night time is imperative to the transformation of these shapes.
Julian Bell – Hong Kong and the Constellations
Bell paints the man so beautifully, the posture so completely relaxed and in his own head. The colours he uses and the way light falls onto the man at the front is beautiful. There is a separation between the main subject (the man) and his environment; viewers can see, for instance, aggravation between two men to the right, and a man caught in mid sprint to the left, yet the main subject just lies, unaffected, completely zoned out and at peace inside his own mind. Perhaps this man is not originally from Hong Kong and so doesn’t fit in with the surroundings anyway, merely passing through the environment and admiring it. As someone heavily prone to disappearing inside my own head for prolonged periods of times, I feel I can relate to the man inside the picture; I feel envious of his peace and whereabouts. It makes me want to be travelling, detached from the chaos of city life. The way te man gazes up and a few of the stars are caught on canvas creates a relationship between this man and the stars; it is as though they too are unaffected by the chaotic city life and have the same peace as that man lying down underneath them. I feel that this painting puts chaos of everyday life into perspective.
Vija Celmin – ‘Night Sky’, 2006, Screenprint
This was one of my favourites. i was drawn to the depth of it. As someone who enjoys stargazing, she captures the infinite depth of the sky in a very simple but beautiful way. It looks like dust that has been caught on flash-camera. I wanted to project it as an encompassing installation with audio recordings of recited memories over the top.
Below are some more paintings that stuck out to me for various reasons:
Danny Markey – TV Room At Night
Phoebe Urwinn – Cinema
Edward Stott – Starlight Landscape
William Blake – I want I want, 1793 engraving
Found online: “The little man is not alone as he starts his impossible climb but is watched by an audience of two, who cling to each other in relative safety. Despite their blank faces, they seem to be scared by his want. They gesture in his direction, recognizing his courage, but seem content to remain earthbound. One student in my class suggested that because they have each other their desires are fulfilled.Like many of us, they are hesitant, blank and caught up in the passive remove of witness rather than the engagement of action.(…) We are born wanting, and in seeking fulfillment of our many wants we encounter all of life. We want sustenance. We want connection.We want love. We want learning. (…) lovers we want union but are always alone. As students we want knowledge and experience but must make choices that deny whole realms of possibility. (…)Want drives us and disappoints us. Despite the divided nature of want, we continue and achieve.In some ways, it seems a wonderful and simple encapsulation of our humanity.(…) It is necessary to wantin order to learn. FOUND AT: http://segarsculpture.com/work/essays/i-want-an-essay-about-william-blakes-smallest-image/
It is a vision of rudimentary space travel created centuries before Neil Armstrong was even a twinkle in his father’s eye.
It isn’t hard to imagine the mystical poet and artist in his Lambeth garden, gazing at the starry sky and dreaming of a slender ladder propped up against the moon.
Through research into this piece I have found that here are many subjective interpretations of this piece; it could be seen as a metaphor for the poet’s solitary road; with his imagination he attempts to climb away from Earth. is his innocence (exhibitted through the naive idea of a large ladder to the moon) the key to a new world? Or perhaps the engraving is satire, where ambition will be outdone by possibility?
The reason I was attracted to this beautiful little piece initially was its delicacy; it is a tiny little piece sitting perfectly in the middle of a slightly-larger-than-A4 page of a book.The book was very aged and withered, and on the opposite page was the trace of where the book had been closed so much that the outline oof the engraving had rubbed. The piece gives so little away and as a result, there is so much room for interpretation. I could not work ouw hy else I was attracted to this piece, but through research online I can see that I was not the only person. From this piece I mainly take the presentation; I am very drawn to the idea of placing a very small but detailed piece in the middle of a large, book (espcially effective when this book is old).
I was really quite moved by some of the pieces in this exhibition. The subject of the night-time is really rather romantic. Arguably. It would be interesting to make use of this idea in my own art. I am certain that I want my art in some way to relate to human psychology and observation of others. I think there is still room to dig deeper into my interest in memory. But perhaps I could tie the night time into this. Indeed, it is at night that the mind tends to warp in mysterious ways; often one can get stuck inside ones own head revisiting memories at night. When we are very sleepy, the mind tends to fade into a state inbetween realms of consciousness.