After doing some very exciting lighting tests on Tuesday night, a southerly wind did its thing the night before last and for most of yesterday. It certainly put Inland Ice through its paces and revealed many weaknesses. It looked pretty bad, but actually wasn’t. The weather is something that the work always had to come to terms with.
Despite the work looking slightly shredded at times, I managed to devise some strategies to balance the aesthetic and structural needs of the work. I am glad the work was subjected to the Southerly while I was there, and in the early stages of the installation. From today-Sunday, I have Correna my assistant full time and I think that we will make some more rapid and visible progress. Actually, we have to as I am booked on a flight out on Monday evening.
This is a very physical project. Lots of scaffolding climbing, weather and rain wrangling, ladders and repetition and problem solving [and adjusting/modifying expectations] . I wish I could say that I am sleeping well, but I am not even though I am exhausted after each 12 hour day. Maybe next week!
I am sitting in a plane about to depart Wellington again to work in Christchurch this week on Inland Ice for or NZ Icefest.
I have to say I am a bit nervous and had a really interrupted sleep last night as I can’t really stop thinking about the project and anticipating solutions to potential problems as well as coming up with some new and improved strategies for dealing with such a large sculptural work.
Initially I thought Inland Ice would be about 3m tall, but it turns out that she is 4.5m tall in places. She is still 20m long.
I visited Christchurch last week on Thursday for another site visit to see the completed frame work. Chris, Tom and Si did an amazing job and the engineer is happy and I am too. I also ran a very awesome Ice Shelf workshop for a group of Christchurch Homeschool kids. It started with my usual presentation via powerpoint, but as I didn’t have my scientist Craig Stevens in tow, I had to try and deliver as much of scientific context and information about Antarctica as possible. I think it went Ok.
Then we hopped into the making part of the the workshop where the kids partnered up and negotiated the geometries of the project for a while until they were ready to join them together. The partners then joined with other partner groups until we had made one complete section. It was team work at its best. Such a great and well mannered and engaged bunch of kids with a great result that will be incorporated into Inland Ice this week. Thanks guys.
And to top things off, I was invited to speak to the Science Communication class at Victoria University, Wellington with poet Helen Heath and Michele Fontana and his wonderful Museum in a Pizza Box project. It was an honour to be included with these colleagues to present alternative science communication outputs to the students. It was also such a treat to witness Helen and Michele’s practices in action. Thanks to Rhian Salmon and Rebecca Priestly for engineering such an interesting afternoon. There is much to reflect on, but for another time.
Back to today. I am hoping that it will be able to blog daily as the most exciting and visually interesting part of the project takes place over the next 8 days. Thankfully I have a highly qualified assistant Correna and hopefully I will get a few interested volunteers to help out too. If you are in Christchurch and have a spare hour or two, leave me a message below.
Or pop by to see the work take shape. It is just off Cathedral square.
But for now, I have to sign off as the plane is getting ready for landing.
So, last week, I had a site visit to Christchurch where the frame for Inland Ice at Nz Icefest was just beginning to be erected. I met with the builders, the engineer and also the lighting company who will be illuminating the work. It was all really exciting and also very positive. I am very lucky to be working with such highly skilled and awesome people
By the end of the week, the whole 20m long structure was finished and tested and approved which is another relief.
Meanwhile, back in Wellington, I ran some ‘ice shelf’ workshops with Craig Stevens of Niwa/University of Auckland at Wadestown school. Apparently we had about 250 kids over two sessions. This is a record for me. Craig and I both gave powerpoint presentations about our work and how they cross over. Then the kids helped by joining sections of off cuts of Tyvek together. These sections will go into the big Inland Ice iceshelf in Christchurch next week. Pics and timelapse to come of this magnificent example of organised and productive chaos. The kids were awesome. It was amazing.
To top the week off, Craig and I gave and artist talk at the National Library. It was very much a grown up version of what we do with the kids. Revealing process and inspiration with a lot more detail and a bit less talk about the cute animals of Antarctica (which cause an almost riot with the kids) and without the making. Such an attentive audience and really thoughtful inline we a of questioning.
In the studio this week I have been trying to resolve some Tyvek dying issues as mentioned before. I thought that I had come up with the perfect solution – I found some powdered fabric dye specifically for unnatural fibres. Optimistically I prepared the dye bath and cut some paper down. I also cut some samples of perforated signage vinyl to test also.
To cut a long and now boring story short. It was mostly a failed exercise. The Tyvek didn’t dye as I thought. It went a weird faded violety grey colour which isn’t very ice-shelf like. The more fabric like Tyvek only dyed in an acid-wash style – like faded purple/blue denim which wasn’t ideal either. The perforated signage vinyl worked though.
So – back to what I know and time to stop experimenting and trying too many new things at once. The shellac-dye combo works, so that is what we will go with until it runs out. I am also lucky that I will be able to use coloured lighting – so effectively the light becomes the dye which nicely removes one step in the already labour intensive process.
Alongside all this dye business, I have been gathering and tracing and cutting triangles and the piles are adding up.
I also spoke at SCAR14 on Monday- an international Antarctic Science conference held in Auckland this year. I got to talk in a very animated manner with and about the outreach/art-sci comm workshops that I run with my collaborator Craig Stevens.
I felt very much like a fish out of water, but I hope that worked in my favour. It was an amazing privilege to be selected to talk with Craig about our theories and discoveries about pitching the idea of Antarctica under the guise of getting helpers for an art project to school kids and their teachers.
We were also speaking alongside some impressive researchers and to an equally amazing audience. It was both nerve wracking and exciting.
I have to get back to tracing and cutting triangles now, so for now, here are some pictures of the progress: