Tag Archives: Land art

James Turrell Lightscapes

After an eight hour round trip across the country with LL just to see James Turrell’s Lightscapes exhibition, I was pleased that every second in the car was well spent. This collection of Turrell’s pieces is currently being shown in Houghton Hall, Norfolk in the grand house built in 1720 for Sir Robert Walpole, Britain’s first prime minister (oh, didn’t you know that either?).

James Turrell is preoccupied with the medium of light, and how we perceive (and apprehend) light and space. His works is grounded in mathematics and perceptual psychology, and having now experienced his work first hand – can be described as bordering somewhere between psychedelic and transcendental.

He once said, that the goal of the art process was not to turn an experience into art, but to “set up a situation to which I take you and let you see. It becomes your experience.” [1]. This is so unbelievably true with Turrell’s work, more so than any other artist or installation I have come across before.

The current owner of Houghton Hall is a bit of a Turrell fan, and (as you do) has two of Turrell’s pieces permanently on display in the rather beautiful spacious grounds around the house. The work in the photo above is Skyspace, an example of one of the enclosed viewing chambers which affect your perception of the sky. The open roof, is a deep, intense blue which looks like a solid sky painted on the ceiling – until you see a cloud or a bird fly by. You go back outside and suddenly the sky seems free again and immaterial – reality seems to be just a trick of the light.

It’s impossible to photograph Turrell’s work to do it any justice, and some of his pieces such as his ‘Tall Glass’ piece Shrim (2015), we just stared at captivated. While we were looking at Shrim, A couple of teenagers bounced into the room to look at the coloured plate on the wall then turned and went out again. LL and I continued to watch, and realised that the shapes and colours (so fuzzy and indistinct I thought I had taken my glasses off for a moment) were gradually cycling in and out, so slowly it was like staring to watch the moon climbing over the sky.

A few of my photos which (although not perfect) give you some idea:

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Enzu, Green (1968)

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Raethro, Red (1969)

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First Light (1989-90)

The last piece we saw was the second of the two permanent features in the estate: St. Elmo’s Breath, known as a Space Division Construction. This is housed in an old watertower and is a standout piece. You are guided into a completely darkened room (which I tell you is not fun for a claustrophobic who is scared of pitch black darkness). You experience what seems to be an endless, fuzzy darkness, until very gradually, a gentle muted colour field reveals itself from the walls of the room. After about 20 minutes the fuzz clears and your eyes finally allow you to see not only the panels on the walls in front of you, but the shapes of the other people around you. Quite something.

As a final cherry on the exhibition cake, we also spotted a Richard Long sculpture (one of a handful of permanent contemporary sculptures that are on the site). This piece, Full Moon Circle interacts with the surroundings in a fascinating way. Overall, a great day out.
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References:

  1. J. Turrell, Mapping Spaces, Peter Blum, New York, NY, 1987

Elementals

Taking a break from working on The Big Exhibition Quilt today as I need to tack the quilting before doing any more hand stitching (hence procrastinating as I really hate tacking!). This gave me a chance to work on some of the ideas from the last rock/tree object and take a next step. I tried to look at some of the land art inspirations I have been researching and incorporate some of the ideas I really like.  I’m also starting to try to  incorporate more of the textile skills I already have and transform them into new materials.  I have done rather a lot of ‘dimensional stitching’ so far, but not really looked at the patchwork or quilting techniques I know.  Definitely a plan for term 2!

For now though, these were the two experimental objects I made today.

First: Rock Basket (wood, rock, single strand of silk thread) [Earth / Air]

This was used a weaving technique with a very fine and delicate silk thread – I liked using just a single strand all the way through the piece as well. The rock, meant as an offering, is trapped within the structure which is weaved around it. This is in order to show how the air element – represented here by the delicate silk and space within the weave, has the power to control and overcome earth.

The second object looks at patchwork with non-textile materials (wood, steel pins, leaves, red cotton thread, hessian). [Earth in fear of fire]

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This was to some extent in response to the work of Richard Shilling, and starting to use my patchwork skills – I need to collect some more newly fallen leaves to see how the texture of fresh leaves can change the object. I really liked this work, and this this is an interesting direction to explore.

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Inspirational photos of the day – land art

A few land artists – people working out in the natural environment with raw, elemental objects, often found and used in the same spaces. Many have an ephemeral quality, while others are significant large scale site-specific pieces. Others are temporary, fleeting glimpses of beauty and order, before falling back into chaos.

Andy Goldsworthy

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Cornelia Konrads

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Richard Schilling

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Richard Long

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