Sunday, July 31, 2011

Jupiter Artland

Jupiter Artland sculpture park is just west of Edinburgh, it can be a little difficult to find but is well worth the effort.
'A Forest' by Jim Lambie is an installation on the rear wall of the entrance shop and gallery. The mirrored surface of the chrome panels reflect the surrounding woodland but this natural harmony is interrupted by the apparent peeling away of corners of the mirrored surface to reveal glimpses of brightly coloured layers beneath. The effect is at once beautiful and unsettling, natural and unnatural. As the light and the seasons change this piece will change with them and I suspect that in due course nature will also play its part in the evolution of the work by beginning to colonise the nooks and crannies with plant life.

'Suck' by Anish Kapoor is a very solid rendering of the archetypal black hole that absorbs all light and matter, to the dark places within, a sink-hole delving into the bowels of the earth - for most of us the stuff of nightmares. The iron clad hole at the centre of 'Suck' is surrounded by a 17 foot high cast iron cage which poses questions of whether the hole has been captured and neutralised by being caged or we if are being kept at a distance to ensure our safety?
Cornelia Parker's 'Landscape with Gun and Tree' references Gainsborough's 'Mr and Mrs Andrews' in which Mr Andrews stands, beside his wife, beneath a tree, with a shotgun. The scale of this piece is in keeping with the potential for violence inherent in the weapon, loaded or otherwise. The menace is no doubt amplified in winter when the trees are stripped bare and the wind whistles through the branches.

I've seen numerous images of Charles Jencks' 'Life Mounds' but actually being able to walk amongst and on them is a quite different experience. This is especially true in the pouring rain when the surface of the water becomes highly textured by huge raindrops that disrupt the normal stillness of the pools.

Andy Goldsworthy's 'Stone Coppice' was the highlight for me, possibly helped by the spectacular thunderstorm raging around me, and the fact that everyone else had sought shelter so I had the copse to myself. The boulders are left over stones from 'Stone House', another Goldworthy structure at Jupiter Artland. The limbs of the coppiced hazel are sturdy enough to hold the boulders and will slowly grow to trap and enclose the stones in a vice-like grip, fusing plant and mineral as one piece. The area will continue to be managed for coppicing and the addition of further boulders (in 10 to 15 years) is a possibility. Slow art but well worth waiting for.
'Clay Tree Wall', in the Gallery, is also by Andy Goldsworthy. Coppiced branches were fixed to the wall and then covered in wet clay, mixed with human hair. As the clay dried the cracks appeared making it look as if the branch was caught in a dried up river bed. Goldsworthy refers to it as exploring the surface that forms the divide between 'above' and 'below' ground, transition points are often contested and here it is the cracks that make the 'below' ground visible that are so important to the visual effectiveness of the work.

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