Yesterday the sun came out for a glimpse of early autumn light. It’s my favourite sort of light – warm and comforting. The sun just easing itself down as though the summer’s efforts have made it weary. The uniform greens and blues burst open to a much broader pallette of yellows and golds and russetts. The shadows gradually lengthen and reveal texture and contours in the landscape.
With just a day’s window of sunshine for a week or so I took the chance to venture down to the woods at the bottom of the hill and indulge myself in some photography. We’d done a small test of a larger installation piece a couple of weeks before and it’d been hanging in the studio ever since. It’s from a piece I’m creating for a trade stand in Monaco for a local paper manufacturer. The final piece is a much larger installation made from around 3,000 die-cut pieces of paper. On the stand it’ll be within the clean lines and pure white walls of a gallery area.
The piece – ‘Pinched’ – is based on a form created by imagining a ceiling surface pinched and pulled to the ground. I imagined a form created from a skin of nylon tights. (Don’t ask!) Rather than a piece which stands on the ground and reaches for the sky, I wanted to do something which starts as a roof and encreoaches into the space below. It’s touch by the time it reaches the ground is light and barely there. Yet at the same time it has a tension which eminates from a tiny point on the ground. The thought that if that point were severed the whole piece would just spring back up to a flat plane on the ceiling again.
There’s something elemental about paper. It’s essentially just wood and water, with the water taken out. It’s easy to recycle and just as easy to rot back into soil, as wood and other plant stuff do. So in some tenuous way, it’s just borrowed stuff. I also love the way the decaying process sustains an entire existence of its own in moss and lichen. Themselves all part of the process of returning stuff to the ground.
Earlier in the year I made two paper installations inspired by these and the elements of wood and water:
While photographing the first ‘Treecreeper’ piece, I was also struck by the way it seemed to come alive in the gently shifting light from the tree canopy.
It’s this kind of thing which adds to the experience of work in the landscape. The way that nature’s penchant for chaos ensures the work is constantly changing – from the movement of light, to the way the ground moves under your feet. So I’m always looking for ways to bring some of those extras to the white cube gallery space. A couple of years ago it was a mud and clay floor in an installation at Scope International Art Fair in London.
This year it’s the gently moving dappled light I’m attempting to export. A bank of computer-controlled LED lights randomly shift the shadows ever-so slightly in a very subtle kind of way. Next week in a grand exhibition hall overlooking the boats in Monaco I’ll be bringing a little bit of my secret woodland magic with me. But before then, I just wanted to indulge myself in my own world and bring the piece (albeit only the bottom section) back to the woods. And there, just like the other pieces, it’ll stay to be reclaimed by time. Pieces borrowed and duly returned.