Self portrait: looking back at myself from 1992. [I am just embarking upon a complete studio clearout, and have already come across this. Well, over the next few weeks this process is going to be one hell of a trip down memory lane, so thought I might share it with you as I go along. In any case, I’m not going to be producing new work until this is done. Deep breath…]
At school, I was never as keen on chemistry as I was on biology. However these days, the more I read about the ecological damage that we are doing to our planet the more it seems that it is chemistry that will undo us in the end. The changes will be subtle, apparently minuscule, but crucial. So as we acidify our oceans, the chemistry used by the coccolithophores to construct their elaborate protective shells turns to ’emperor’s clothes’. Chemistry, not being so far removed from biology, then makes <this Radiolab podcast> breathless listening.
Tallman Walking, what’s that all about? That pivot moment where you start to rotate the telescope and look through it from the other end; the descending whoosh as the Doppler Effect kicks in; your eldest son reaching eighteen. Why here? Well, that <hiatus> really put the cat amongst the pigeons, so this is my way of starting to walk again. And the image? Memorable, don’t you think? It has been with me for many years now, and came to mind recently. (Allegory of Prudence by Titian)
That’s the title of a recent article in ‘The Field’ magazine about my plans for Surface Tension. I never imagined that I could be described as a ‘sporting artist’! It does show, however, that I am reaching beyond my usual audience. I also didn’t expect the grilling I got from the journalist: straight to the point, no messing around, what the hell did I think I was up to? Well, you decide. You can read the article on line here. Much rather ‘The Field’ than any art magazine. [Yes, I know, I haven’t been posting much of late, but am planning on that changing in the New Year. Here’s looking ahead to 2018!]
It was in The White Bird that John Berger wrote “art does not imitate nature, it imitates a creation, sometimes to propose an alternative world, sometimes simply to amplify, to confirm, to make social the brief hope offered by nature”. With this in mind, it was interesting to see different approaches emerging from the architecture workshop at AUB, one of which was to separate the art from the landscape, placing them back to back. The model shown here proposes that you would enter from one bank of the river to experience the artwork (soundscape) inside the small room; from the other bank you could sit looking at nature whilst suspended above the water. I am not sure that this separation is appropriate, as the landscape at Mottisfont, and in particular the river itself, is just as much an art-ificial construction as the artwork I propose making. For ‘nature’ I need, perhaps, to look further afield, to the melting icecaps, the Barrier Reef bleachings or how migrating birds are arriving back at new times each year. In this endeavour I will take Berger as my guide, and search for a hopeful alternative. [Thanks the ‘reeds’ team at AUB who produced this model.]
Just spent the day at Arts University Bournemouth in architecture reviewing the concept designs for Surface Tension. Both exciting and challenging to see the different interpretations of the brief I gave at the beginning of the week. There were some beautiful drawings, plenty of Sketchup images, but what really got me were the models. Their immediacy, tactility and improvised nature all just add to their power as tools with which to imagine. Space and materiality in miniature. I will blog about them in detail next week. Wonderful. Thanks Simon for making the whole thing possible.
Next week I am in a workshop with architecture students at Arts University Bournemouth (AUB) on the first stage of Surface Tension, a project on the River Test in Hampshire. The structure that we will be designing is to house sounds and reflections, real and metaphorical. Looking forward to getting started! [sonar image adapted from original by A. Didson]