‘Verdant Sculpture’ is a large aluminium rectangular partition created by sandwiching two identical sheets of laser cut aluminium around a steel frame using two red tie downs. Patterns in general do not simulate any sense of depth; they’re flat. Even if there is an actual object or place depicted these are almost always graphically abstracted into symbolic or iconographic representations. When I designed the pattern for this piece I was experimenting with creating a pattern that could indicate a sense of depth. As a starting point for the structure of the pattern I was looking at the compositional structures in Claudian landscape painting; the use of foreground, mid-distance and distance that he employed to create a sense of distance and movement in his paintings. This structure dictated the scale of the differing leave patterns and their positioning. The piece forms a block, a kind of temporary obstacle, held together momentarily with impromptu tie downs. It is this question of instability I was interested in; the instability or inability of the pattern to form a proper image, the large solid metal construction occupying space, yet the impermanent nature of the tie downs indicating it’s only occupying a holding position before it moves on.
‘Causa Finalis’, 2012 consist of steel constructions – gates or parts of gates in different sizes and shapes – leaning against the wall, resting on cushions, lying on the floor, and standing on top of carpets: a temporary repository. On the one hand the structures’ forms might resemble minimalist sculpture, yet their decorative counterparts found in the textiles’ prints, give way to a different reading. Through a process of abstraction and translation, I derived these forms from the eighteenth century topiary garden designed by the Scottish architect Robert Lorimer (1864-1929) for Earlshall Castle in Scotland. At first sight, one could imagine topiary – the cutting and shaping of ever greens into specific forms – to have gone out of fashion a long time ago, as one of the carpets perhaps indicates: in 1713, with his satirical enumeration of possible topiary, English poet Alexander Pope (1688-1744), announced a turning point in the then popular topiary. With his mock inventory: ‘The Tower of Babel, not yet finished’; ‘St George in box; his arm scarce long enough, but will be in condition to stick the dragon by next April’, he heralded a more natural form of landscaping to come into fashion, only for topiary to come back into fashion again with the Cottage Garden and the Arts and Crafts Movement, advocated a.o. by Lorimer.
Recently the art of topiary seems increasing pertinent a discipline to me. Especially in today’s media driven society in which perception increasingly becomes fragmented and truncated, there are two aspects in topiary, which assume antagonistic qualities. Firstly its time, it could take up to 30 years to become fully formed. Secondly its dedication and focus. By working with Topiary I deliberately try to posit the idea that an artwork needs not be about the immediate, the now, or the spectacular. This being the case then art does not have to be constantly in need of attention or appeal to be looked at and thus is free to speak in different tones or at moments even not at all. All of which frees art from the romantic pressure to provide the escape from the deadlock of the systems in which we live and allows it to speak in its own voice.
“Borderline Picturesque & the Recounting Prospect” began with a residency in Tromsø in 2008, where it was my experience of, and integration into, an intriguing, and quite foreign to me, community that fuelled the project. A community defined by their traditions, histories, myths and landscape: for whom local identity was of the upmost importance and in which music and image played a vital role in defining and sustaining these traditions. Through a process of abstraction and translation, both physical and mental, I created the works. These works abstract imagery important to the defining of this micro culture; allowing them to speak more generally about ones relation to landscape as a cultural product
‘As though a lens’ is the culmination of the ‘Borderline Picturesque & the Recounting Prospect’ project. It is a vinyl record produced in an edition of 300. Side A contains a spoken word piece, created through having images from the archive of the Norwegian Polar Research Institute audio described. Side B contains five instrumental songs created in a week long improvisation session with a group of Norwegian folk musicians who were asked to translate the audio descriptions from side A into music.
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