For those of you subscribed to this blog, a quick update on Surface Tensions. From here on in I am going to be posting on Instagram, rather than via WordPress. If you would like to continue following my progress, then you will find me @surface.tensions. Hope to see you there!
I’ve been looking into the River Test (quite literally), well stocked with trout, thinking about how it will be impacted by climate change. I then went up to the cafe at Mottisfont and I came across this poster on the walls there. Dating from 1931, it caught my eye as it seemed to encapsulate so much about our paradoxical attitude to nature. It’s a great example of how we appropriate the idea of ‘Nature’ to promote, well, anything really, at the expense of Nature itself; here, the desire to drive out into the countryside at the weekends to be refreshed by some natural scene or other. Little did we suspect at the time, but those fossil fuels had a sting in their exhaust. So, I went to asked Neil, the river keeper, whether there were infact any otters on the Test. He responded by showing me some otter tracks on the Rectory Beat. So at least that part of the poster is real! [Poster courtesy of the Shell Heritage Art Collection.]
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.
It was for The Field magazine that F.M. Halford wrote about dry fly fishing under the pen name of the Detached Badger. The Field covered (and still does) anything to do with hunting, shooting and fishing – perhaps that is Halford himself fishing the Test there on the right of the magazine’s historic banner illustration. [If you know who drew this illustration then please get in touch as I would like to credit them.]