“How would you define this piece in terms of media?”
Fig 1. Paterson, K. Vatnajökull glacier (2007-08)
I decided to start with Vatnajökull (the sound of) and then look at her work more generally.
Vatnajökull (the sound of)
I undertook the exercise quite literally initially and so listened to, and researched a little about, Vatnajökull (the sound of) (2007-08). The idea is truly brilliant. We are given a mobile telephone number to call, which would allow us to hear the Vatnajökull glacier melting. In effect we are being asked to listen to what global warming sounds like. There are however, so many layers of thought behind the work. (Sadly, the number no longer works.)
The melting of glaciers is something that doesn’t happen close to many of the world’s inhabitants. Given the very fixed position of Vatnajökull , Patterson brings the melting glacier to us. This in turn changes the nature of the ‘place’ of the glacier. We are connected to something that was distant, but is now close and so fits within our realm of experience and comprehension.
The effects of global warming work on a much slower timescale than human timescales. Another effect of this work, therefore, is to shrink time. We can hear global warming happening now, within a 30 second telephone call rather than watch time-lapse images and/or diagrams illustrating the effects.
Paterson’s choice of this glacier for her work is also interesting. According to the Glacier Guides website (2017), Vatnajökull is “…by far the largest glacier in Iceland and the largest glacier mass in all of Europe…” It goes on to say, “Like so many other glaciers around the world, rising temperatures and reduced snowfall mean that this ancient icecap is melting. In one of the most recent reports from the Icelandic government’s Committee on Climate Change, it warns that by the next century, Iceland’s glaciers will no longer exist.” So Paterson has chosen the largest glacier in Iceland to allow us to experience climate change with a sense of immediacy and proximity; in our place at this time.
Whilst visiting Chester Cathedral recently, I happened upon an installation by Richard Sweeney, accompanied by an exhibition of his smaller works. He was unknown to me before this visit.
Sweeney’s website describes him as seeking to maintain “…an experimental, hand-on (sic) approach, utilising the unique properties of often mundane materials to discover unique sculptural forms. He has lectured at universities internationally and regularly holds workshops to share his knowledge of paper folding and construction techniques.”
Reflecting upon his work raised various questions about art. A subsequent visit to the Towner Gallery (in Eastbourne) to see A Certain Kind of Light raised similar questions. I have therefore, linked the two blogs together. At the foot of this one there is a link to A Certain Kind of Light, where these questions are considered.
The next section of this blog looks at Sweeney’s work, whilst the subsequent considers my responses to his work
Read: ‘Place – The First of All Things’ by Tacita Dean and Jeremy Millar
List artists mentioned and look at least one piece by those whose work incorporates text.
Ian Hamilton Finlay
Fig. 1 Finlay, I. H. The World Has Been Empty Since the Romans (1985)
I find this piece quite baffling. This image was taken from the Tate’s website (see list of illustrations below). In the text that accompanied the image, it was explained that “Despite its ruin-like appearance, Finlay’s sculpture was in fact specially made in its present form.” The text goes onto discuss various aspects of the context of the work, in particular that this is the first part of a sentence which concludes, “But the memory of the Romans fills it. They go on prophesying liberty.”
This exercise has asked whether the pieces have any relevance to ‘place’ and how they reference it.
The piece is quoting a reference to the Romans but “The World” as understood by the Romans was not the planet, it was largely Europe, North Africa and those parts of western Asia abutting the Mediterranean Sea.
The sentence is attributed to Antoine de Saint-Just, a military and political leader during the French Revolution. In terms of place, there is something curious about a revolutionary leader of the 18th Century referencing the Roman concept of the world. Whatever his aims and ideals for the French revolution, the quote suggests an antiquated sense of what he felt the world was or could become, which is underscored by the old and damaged appearance of the stones.
Find two examples of still life work which includes fish and in each case note the title, artist and date. Make a quick sketch of both pieces.
I decided to choose two pieces that were quite different. The first was a Picasso and the second by William Merritt Chase. It is no exaggeration to say that I have not tried to draw properly for decades. I tried to experiment a little in each sketch. In the first there are areas of colour and so I decided to use coloured pencils.
In the second,the artist’s emphasis was on realism so I used normal drawing pencils but instead tried using both hard and relatively soft ones.
Drawing 1 – Based on Picasso’s Still Life with Fish (1923)
Drawing 2 – Based on William Merritt Chase’s Still Life with Fish (Date unknown)
In 250 words describe your understanding of this piece. What do you think Taylor-Wood wants us to think about or experience from watching this?
Initial response after 1st viewing
The opening shot of fruit in a bowl is reminiscent of old still life paintings. The fruit has been selected and chosen with care. The colours are a mix of reds and pale yellows. The small bunch of grapes reminded me of Edwaert Collier’s “Still Life with a Volume of Wither’s ‘Emblemes’”.
The bowl is a gentle brown and its texture contrasts with the smoothness of the fresh fruit. The background behind the bowl is out of focus and provides no distraction from the fruit. The light shines from the left and so produces shadows which accentuate the shapes and forms of the different fruits. The fruit is resting on a pale wooden table with a blue ballpen to the right of the bowl. The pen’s colour and form jars with the fruit. Whist everything else maybe described as natural, the pen is plastic and cheap.