Space and Context

Lately, I have been considering the importance of the context of my work and how it can change the meanings, perception and aesthetics of my pieces.

I have been torn between the benefits of both a gallery or ‘white cube’ environment, and the original environments of the materials used in my work. I think that a removal of context in terms of displaying my work can be beneficial, as it allows me to create my own new environment for people to interact with, however I feel somewhat instinctively drawn to the idea of placing my work back into the environment; offering my artistic representation back to the landscape in some way.

One of the major influences for me in terms of context for my work comes from Andy Goldsworthy. Even as one of the most renowned British land artists, he still creates work that is intended for a gallery or indoor environment. He claims:

“It’s not a contradiction for an artist who’s committed to working outside to work inside.”

andy golsworthy.jpg

To consider the aesthetics further, have looked at a few photographs of Goldsworthy’s work, where similar structures can be seen both indoors and outdoors.

‘Surface Tension’ is a piece I was particularly drawn to. It is made from a structure of sticks, suspended between the walls of a gallery space. But Goldsworthy can be seen constructing a similar structure suspended from a tree in his 2001 documentary ‘Rivers and Tides.’

I think the concept that this structure can be created in any space and relate to either environment in it’s own way is really fascinating. I like how in the gallery, the piece looks as though it is attempting to burst through the walls; it looks strong and complex. However, the similar structure outside looks more like an extension of the tree; an abnormal growth. It seems to have physically grown from the tree that inspired it, and yet it looks much more flimsy and temporary.

I have photographed my own work in different contexts in order to see how it changes the feel of the pieces.

As you can see, the two are very different. What I am very happy with, is that they do in fact take on the same kind of transformational power that of Goldsworthy’s work. But I find it really hard to choose which environment I prefer my work in.

I think the removal of visual context allows the details of my work to become a lot clearer. It highlights the craftsmanship involved more than when placed outside. This makes them appear much more striking, and I feel that they have more weight to them; they stand for themselves.

When placed outside, I do feel as though they start to become slightly lost within the background. They don’t have the same dominant aura to them that is evident in the white, gallery setting. The main concept behind this work is also that of creating a new form from elements of negative space from the landscape, and by placing the work back into the environment, I am running the risk of them becoming negative space once more and not allowing them the chance to stand for themselves.

I think I would like to find a way of displaying my work in a gallery setting that brings elements of the natural world into play. I experimented with this a little bit for the ORIGINS Exhibition at the Farnham Vineyard:


But I think I could start to play with options that are a lot more interesting than just plinths.

One idea that I am keen to develop is the accompaniment of film with my work. I would like to experiment with creating installation style environments for my work, that include film footage of the forest or soundtracks of the forest perhaps. This is definitely something I wish to develop and play with once I return to University for my final year!


Lots to chew on… here’s hoping I make sense!

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