I must admit that a big part of the attraction for me of the art installation currently being hosted by the London Canal Museum was the opportunity to climb down into the underground ice wells and take some pretty photographs. But like many such things, it turned out to be about so much more than that, and I found myself exploring a fascinating interplay between art and science – with a little bit of London history thrown in for good measure… This installation was created by artist Lyndall Phelps in collaboration with physicist Dr Ben Still, who have been working together since 2012 exploring particle physics. You can read more about their work on their blog. This piece, Covariance, is actually the first instalment of the Institute of Physics’ Superposition series, which brings together artists and physicists to create new works of art. And yes, you do get to climb down some ladders into the usually fenced-off ice wells that sit beneath the museum building. Built in around 1863, it was originally a warehouse for Carlo Gatti, who as well as being a restaurateur was also an ice importer and ice cream maker. At the time, ice was imported in blocks from Norway, then driven along the canal from what is now Limehouse Basin. The smaller pieces in the first well represent this history, with light boxes that mirror the shape of these ice blocks. But the main work is in the second well, underneath the front of the building. This dark, circular space is now home to the striking work shown here in these photographs. These colourful disks were inspired by various ways in which data from particle detectors is visualised. I’m no scientist – but fortunately the knowledgable guides can explain more, and show you photographs (also contained in the exhibition guide) of the various inspirations, such as Ben’s own coloured dot diagrams, the women who used to process data from the early detectors, and Japan’s Super-Kamiokande particle detector. The work is created from everyday materials, including over one kilometre of brass rods (representing the history of science), and beads and diamantes (representing women’s contributions to physics). The space itself also informed the work’s design – and its dark, silent and rather cold environment is well-suited to it. This is one of those works that you really need to see for yourself, but suffice it to say that I could have spent another twenty minutes down there quite happily! Superposition runs until 20 October at the London Canal Museum (closest tube: King’s Cross). Tours should ideally be booked in advance here, run on Thursday afternoons, Saturdays and Sundays, and cost £4, which covers entry to the museum. There will be a free conversation event with Lyndall Phelps and Ben Still on the evening of Thursday October 17th.
Marc Hagan-Guirey’s Horrorgami certainly seems to be the flavour of the moment with London’s art lovers – if the numbers visiting last Sunday were anything to go by. Hagan-Guirey’s own specialist blend of the Japanese art of kirigami (think origami with scissors) with the horror films that were so influential on him as a child – resulting in ‘horrorgami’ – has also generated a unique exhibition featuring intricate paper models of iconic buildings from the genre.
London-based Hagan-Guirey’s first foray into horrorgami occurred when he built a model of Frank Lloyd Wright’s Ennis House as a thank-you gift for a friend who organised a visit to the innovative, concrete Californian house. Ennis House was also the setting for House on Haunted Hill – and when the next model he produced was the Addams Family Mansion, Hagan-Guirey realised he had something of a theme going.
Each of the 13 models in the exhibition are created from a single sheet of white paper. The gallery has presented these in two upstairs rooms, curtained off to create darkness. The works are placed in light boxes, with different colours backlighting the models to great effect. The devil is very much in the detail here – both the intricate nature of the works and the subtle features like the pram placed outside the Dakota Building in the Rosemary’s Baby model, and the figure peering eerily out from a window in the Psycho house. The reflections produced along the base of many of the light boxes are also particularly striking.
Horrorgami is free and on now until Wednesday 14th November at Gallery One and a Half, Ardleigh Street, N1 4HS. Monday-Friday 10-5, Sat-Sun 11-4. The closest station is Dalston Junction.
The models pictured here are (from top): Rosemary’s Baby/The Dakota Building, The Addams Family/The Addams Mansion, Psycho/The Bates Residence (detail), Ghostbusters/The Fire Station, The Amityville Horror/112 Ocean Avenue, House on Haunted Hill/Ennis House, Rosemary’s Baby/The Dakota Building (detail).
Looking for some colour to brighten up these grey winter days? Then head to the Halcyon Gallery’s brand new flagship site at 144-146 New Bond Street for the Chihuly exhibition. Dale Chihuly – a master American glass sculptor – is possibly best known in London today as the creator of the spectacular chandelier in the foyer of the Victoria and Albert Museum. His 2005 exhibition Gardens of Glass: Chihuly at Kew was one of the Londonphile’s all-time favourite London events.
Chihuly’s pioneering work with colour and technique really does need to be seen first-hand to be fully appreciated – even the best photos cannot do it justice. The highlight of the Halcyon show is the 24-feet long Mille Fiori garden installation upstairs, which was built specifically for the space. You can also see several of the aforementioned chandeliers and some of Chihuly’s trademark Macchia (plant-like giant bowls) and Seaforms (shell-like creations) on show. As always with Chihuly’s work, the clever use of light and display really sets off the pieces.
This exhibition – which coincides with the fiftieth anniversary of the International Studio Glass movement – is a selling one in a pretty ritzy commercial gallery, but don’t let that put you off as everyone is made welcome here. It has now been extended again until 21 April 2012 so you have even more time in which to get yourself there; entry is free.