The Sculpture Shock artists ambushed the visitors with work which breaks free from the clinical white cage of the gallery space and responds to a non-traditional environment. The third of these environments is an historic and illustrious building in London.
The 2015 residency took place in the Sculpture Shock studio from 14 September to 7 December 2015. The work was shown as a pop-up exhibition from 3 - 7 December 2015, in the Ionic Temple in the gardens of Chiswick House, Chiswick House and Gardens, London, W4 2RP.
The winner of the Historic category of Sculpture Shock 2015 is HANNA HAASLAHTI. On the 14 September 2015 Haaslahti began a three month residency culminating in a site specific spacial intervention in the Ionic Temple in the historic gardens of Chiswick House.
The restored 18th century gardens at Chiswick House were originally created by Lord Burlington and William Kent in 1729, to accompany his neo-Palladian villa. Inspired by the sights of the Grand Tour, the sculptural treatises of Serlio and Palladio and the romance of classical Italian landscape painting, the gardens were conceived as a single, living artwork and open air theatre.
Chiswick was the birthplace of the English Landscape Movement where Burlington and Kent replaced the formality of the existing Renaissance garden with a freer, more luscious design. They eschewed the rigidity of straight lines, incorporating curves and clusters creating ‘natural’. Their informality was highlighted by the careful addition of sculpture and other architectural details in this case including the domed Ionic Temple presiding over a sunken grass amphitheatre centred by an obelisk. The combination of grand vistas, hidden pathways and architectural delights has inspired countless gardens across the world and form a unique oasis in this corner of London.
As the culmination of her residency in December 2014 Joanna Sands created an intervention that challenged its visitors spatial expectations in the Caroline Gardens Chapel at the heart of London’s most extensive 19th century almshouse complex – The Asylum in Peckham.
Originally known as the Licensed Victuallers’ Benevolent Institution Asylum, this Grade II* listed site was formerly a sanctury for “decayed” members of the trade and retired pub landlords. Sands’ installation, made entirely of delicately manipulated strips of ply wood, fused a geometric aesthetic inspired by the Minimalists of the 1960s with the indepth knowledge and the painstaking precision of a true maker. Visitors became aware of their physical and historical environment through its stark contrast with the purity and succinctness of the form of Sands’ work. The work responded to the imperfections of its enviroment – the crumbling walls, decaying altar, fragmented stained glass and crumbling funerary monuments – by asserting its aspirations towards the perfection of form, balance, execution, and spatial proportion.
Sands started making large sculptural installations in abandoned buildings and squats in 1993, often using found materials, altering and referring to the spaces they inhabited. Making visually simple changes Sands’ work subtly subverts the viewer's spatial expectations. Each piece of work becomes an intervention into the space it inhabits and refers to the spatial qualities and architectural characteristics of the surrounding environment.
Neelova is known for her bold sculptural installations in which she incorporates casts of architectural fragments which embody physical residues of the past. She addresses notions of displacement, both historical and physical and to explore the history and memory contained in material and form.
When faced with the challenging environment of the magnificence of Holy Trinity Sloane Square, she was filled with awe. Described by former Poet Laureate Sir John Betjeman as the ‘Cathedral of the Arts and Crafts Movement’, its architect believed that a church should be ‘wrought and painted over with everything that has life and beauty—in frank and fearless naturalism…’, an aim which he achieved not least in the monumental stained glass windows by Sir Edward Burne-Jones and William Morris.
Neelova rose to the challenge of creating a work that responds and encapsulates the artistic, sacred, metaphysical and spatial enormity of the site. Her eye quickly moved from individual architectural elements and rested on the geometric patterns repeated throughout the church. Her research took this further and she quickly understood that all space can be explained through geometry which strives to reduce space’s immensity to a human scale, within the boundaries of human understanding. Everywhere there was evidence of the ‘sacred geometry’, the belief that God created the universe according to a geometric plan, which is the foundation of much sacred art and architecture since ancient times. While this exploration took her into an increasingly abstract world of thought, she discovered the overwhelming presence of polyhedra in nature, in particular in the complex and compelling forms of crystals. Nature and mathematics became one.
The origins and materials of the object-crystals in the installation are intentionally ambiguous. Resonant of the site of an archaeological dig, the fragments link the past to the present both in terms of material and systems of belief. She is presenting fragments of a cogent representation of the universe resulting in a quiet, contemplative work which does not battle with its environment but becomes part of it.