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 for a large specimen to become fully formed. Secondly its dedication and focus, the trees especially in their formative years requiring repeated attention. By working artistically 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 allowing it in the end to REALLY speak, but speak in its own time. As a discipline Topiary I feel speaks of one way the image of nature is used for our self-reflection. To cut a tree in our own image in order to see ourselves from outside, and as such I feel now it is very important to revisit this discipline.
‘Verdant Sculpture and the abundance of pattern’ I feel speaks of three ways the image of nature is used for self-reflection. To cut a tree in our own image in order to see ourselves from outside. To look at the ‘sublime’ and through its immensity look inwards. To surround ourselves in nature’s image to reflect on our position.
The installation consisted of three formworks that could be used to recreate the topiary of Earlshall. These structures are of course sculptures in their own right, speaking to a language of modernist design. But their potential, both practically and conceptually as an object which allows a certain history to speak, I find pertinent. Two brise soleil on the North wall and inside the window, have their functionality denied, while at the same time providing a barrier or blockage mediating between inside and out. The pattern of the brie soleil I designed to function like a ‘sublime’ landscape image with a sense of distance and immensity. And one piece of patterned fabric produced by Marimekko, a Finnish textile company that from 1950’s supported a generation of soon to become influential designers. Inspiring the patterns that surround us from the flower power movement to the ubiquitous IKEA floral patterns.
Curated by Willie Stehouwer
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