I looked initially as her works like ‘Rice/Tree/Burial, 1968’, a piece which is thought to be the first ecologically conscious earthwork (Kino, 2012). This was a performance piece which involved planting a rice field, chaining trees and burying poetry in a time capsule. I have great admiration for works like this and whilst it chimes with my environmental concerns, it doesn’t chime with the type of work I want to produce myself.
On further investigation of her work, it became apparent that she has produced work in pretty much every field of art. The pieces of her work which appealed to me the most, are some of her drawings, a few of which I have made notes on below.
‘Stelae – Message from Another Time – Discoveries of Minds and People, 1986’
Carved marble inscribed with mathematical and scientific formulae. Looking at the scientific achievements we might carve onto a slab of stone to show the pinnacle of our thinking of the time, which could be unearthed in the future by archaeologists.
‘Isometric Systems in Isotropic Space – Map Projections: The Doughnut, 1974’
An ink and charcoal drawing of the globe in a doughnut projection.
‘The Human Hang-up Machine, 1969’
An ink drawing on graph paper which is like an engineering diagram for a machine, but with labels like “Degrees of Freedom”, or “Ethical Egoism Oscillator”. I am very taken by this work, engineering diagrams hold appeal to me for their precision and depiction of machinery and the explanation of how they work. This adds humour and a complexity which means you can spend a long time discovering new features of the work.
Her work appeals to me in the way she often combines science and art. Her drawings are precise which appeals to my way of working, although a little too precise and clinical sometimes for my taste. I want to find a balance of precise and random in my work if I can.
Kino, C. (2012). Agnes Denes Stretches the Canvas as Far as Can Go. [online] Nytimes.com. Available at: https://www.nytimes.com/2012/12/02/arts/design/agnes-denes-stretches-the-canvas-as-far-as-can-go.html [Accessed 17 Aug. 2018].
Moma.org. (n.d.). Agnes Denes. Human Hang-Up Machine. 1969 | MoMA. [online] Available at: https://www.moma.org/collection/works/61777 [Accessed 17 Aug. 2018].
Agnesdenesstudio.com. (n.d.). Agnes Denes. [online] Available at: http://agnesdenesstudio.com [Accessed 17 Aug. 2018].
herman de vries
herman de vries (he uses lower case for his name to embrace equality) works with nature, using natural materials to produce installations, or rubbing earth on paper. ‘from earth: everywhere, 2015’ is a collection of 84 rubbings from different earth samples – de vries has over 8,000 different earth samples, so this is just a selection of these. The displaying of samples appeals to me and I have produced some work in a similar vein cataloguing textures.
His work is often uses natural objects as they are, with little intervention other than their placement. It is interesting, but mostly not where I want to take my work, although the cataloguing display is an area I have explored and may well take forward.
Ganstrom, L. (2015). herman de vries interview in the dutch pavilion at the venice art biennale. [online] designboom | architecture & design magazine. Available at: https://www.designboom.com/art/herman-de-vries-dutch-pavilion-venice-art-biennale-05-13-2015/ [Accessed 19 Aug. 2018].
herman de vries. (2018). herman de vries. [online] Available at: http://www.hermandevries.org/ [Accessed 19 Aug. 2018].
The Centre for Contemporary Art and the Natural World (CCANW) is a charity all about nature and the Arts, so it should be a good place to explore the ideas I want to look at.
‘Soil Culture’ project shows the amazing things you can discover when focussing on a particular issue, soil in this case. Exploring the science behind this is fascinating and provides an unlimited source of inspiration. Making art from this inspiration can then start a conversation about the environmental issues behind the subject. This brings issues to light which would not have been known about before.
Interesting quote from one of the videos (CCANW, 2014):
Dr Stephan Harding, Resident Ecologist & Head of MSc in Holistic Science
‘Information doesn’t work, I can show you tonnes of graphs of sea level rise, it won’t do anything to you, it will just switch you off, make you go back and watch your television even more. It doesn’t work. Fear doesn’t work either. The only thing that works is love. What we’ve got to do, is fall in love with the earth.’
CCANW (2014). Soil Culture. [online] Available at: https://vimeo.com/112804613 [Accessed 3 Sep. 2018].
Ccanw.org.uk. (n.d.). Centre for Contemporary Art & the Natural World. [online] Available at: https://ccanw.org.uk/ [Accessed 3 Sep. 2018].
There was an exhibition of the work of Common Ground at the Yorkshire Sculpture Park. This is a group of artists who look for ways to engage people with their local environment, running workshops and engaging with other artists, organisations, public. The exhibition showed work from many of their projects and like many artists working in this area, they focussed on using natural materials to create their work. Whilst I admire this work, I was focussing on what I could get out of it to use in my own work and there were two pieces which stood out for me.
‘the Light Walk, 2016’ by Harriet and Rob Fraser
This was a series of wooden boards made from seven different woods (hawthorn, rowan, alder, scots pine, sycamore, birch, oak) with a laser cut GPS-tracking showing the seven day walk they took to travel between seven Long View trees.
The piece is visually attractive, appeals to my background working with maps, the poetry speaks to me about the environment they encountered and there is a great story about the journey they took behind the piece.
‘[G.H] Galgorm/Holly, 2018’ by Christine Mackey (and 4 other drawings in the series)
These are drawings of charcoal twigs which I presume were made with the charcoal twigs themselves. An idea I plan to use in my parrallel project work.
Common Ground. (n.d.). Common Ground. [online] Available at: https://www.commonground.org.uk/ [Accessed 3 Sep. 2018].
Fraser, H. and Fraser, R. (2016). Back from the Light Walk. [online] THE LONG VIEW. Available at: https://thelongview.today/2016/06/28/back-from-the-light-walk/ [Accessed 3 Sep. 2018].
The result of this research and much thinking around this subject was the identification of the key issue for me. I want to highlight environmental issues, whilst working in my chosen mediums of bronze and steel sculpture, or rust printing and gunpowder. I am not looking to change the mediums I work with to suit the subject, but a way to approach the subject using the materials I respond to. In some ways it seemed that by using more industrial materials, I may be contradicting myself and I battled with this issue for a long time. However, I believe it is more about getting the message across and I don’t believe the materials should matter in doing this.
A simple paragraph to write, but the crux of the issue which I have been battling with for many months now!