St Peters church, the smallest church in Cambridge, sits on the brow of a small hill next to Kettles Yard. As we climbed the steps abundant grasses softened the approach from the concrete city which surrounds it. The 11th Century church has been emptied of all furniture to create a tranquil space. The plain white walls and uncluttered room, with just the original font, provides a simple but complimentary space in which to view Katie's Paterson's latest work - a fossil necklace.
The fossil necklace, suspended in the centre of the room, can be viewed with a magnifying glass to see the finer details. As the light falls though the stain glass windows a number of beads come alive and become transparent, capturing the light.
In her previous work Katie Paterson has been interested in working with modern technologies that allow us to explore the world beyond our planet and to see into deep space. In contrast this project reverses that telescope turning the view instead inwards, into the world of our own bodies and the minute world of cells and DNA.
This project sees Kate collaborting with Dr Chris Tyler-Smith from the Sanger Institute who's work involves exploring the pathways of human beings across the globe by mapping the evolution of species through their DNA. With Kates interest in history, she has combined these ideas using fossils which hold a record of life. Each bead is unique and represents the history of life on this planet. Although the necklace is small and intimate it holds a huge expanse of geological time. It compliments beautifully the work of Chris Tyler- Smith, becoming a code of life, mirroring what we now understand about DNA, and the key to the connection between all living things.
In his introduction to the exhibit Guy Hayward states
"Fossil Necklace is a string of worlds, with each bead modestly representing a major event in the evolution of life through a vast expanse of geological time. From the unicellular origins of life on earth to the shifting of the continents, the extinction of the Cretaceous period triggered by a falling meteorite, to the first flowering of flowers, it charts the development of our species and affirms our intimate connection to the evolution of those alongside us. Each fossil has been individually selected by the artist from all corners of the globe, then painstakingly carved into spherical beads in a secondary process of excavation"
"In a circular gesture, Paterson joins the beginnings of life with the present, and in her unique way concertinas time and space into a grassable form."
From deep in the past, and from all corners of the world, fossils have been carefully chosen, and crafted by stone cutter Roger Duncan into 170 beads, which include, amongst others, a stingless bee and a winged ant encased in amber, a whale ear bone, a sea turtle egg, blue coral, giant redwood tree fragments, and even fossil rain from Scotland. All are beautifully woven together to create many striking "moments of life" that have existed on this planet.
Image from Katiepaterson.org/fossil/
Are We listening?
These are some small pieces of hand made paper, which has random text incorporated in the pulp. As the ice melts a river of blue emerges beneath the holes that form,- ice dissoloving carrying with it all our words. Is anyone listening?
Geoffrey Farmer : The Surgeon and the Photographer can be seen at the Curve gallery, Barbican until July 28th. Using old books and magazines, Farmer creates collaged puppets which are displayed in a darkened room. The low light gives the figures an intensity, and draws the viewer into an intimate space in which all is not what it at first appears. Peering closely, the viewer discovers strange combinations of limbs and artifacts that are combined to create 365 puppets. The curved space in which they are shown means the figures are not seen all at once and form a procession through the gallery. In the background a soundtrack accompanies the figures, and seems to amplify a sense of time and distance. Footsteps,and the snip of scissors, a click of a camera shutter all adds to the expereince.
Farmer set himself the task of creating a puppet for each day of the year, and began by cutting images from subjects such as art and natural history, ethnography, and popular culture. They are then carefully assembled weaving the artifacts and figures from the past with contemporary images. Some are beautifully minimal, while others become layered and more complex. Dieties, shamens, tricksters, and shape shifting creatures with masks, wands and staffs, abound.
The work has been created over a three year period, and is well worth a visit. It continues until 28th July. It would be shame to miss this opportunity! Entry is free.
Geoffrey Farmer, detail from The Surgeon and the Photogragher
Paper, textile, wood, and metal.
"At first they look timeless, as puppets often do. Their bodies are not much more than cloth tailored to hint at a dancer's frock, a farmer's overalls or the habit of a priest. then it seems that time is scrambled... Each figure is compelling in a quite different way. This one looks like a sketch come alive, that one like an animated statue. There are heavyweight presences - leaders, intellectuals, warriors, - alongside the flimsiest sprites. What they have in common is simply their mutual condition, a sort of parallel life to humanity"
Laura Cumming, The Observer 7th April 2012
Images are from Casey Kaplan Gallery
Details of the show can be found at Barbican Centre
I am also part of Bookscapes Collective.
Bookscapes is a group of six artists that have developed a group practice specialising in site specific interventions and exhibitions.