In October over three days of continual storms Philippa and I with our longtime friends Len Gillman, Lea Wilson and David Newstead made the final sculpture No12 on the Fine Line Project on Mt Ruapehu in New Zealand’s Tongariro National Park.
Huge lenticular clouds driven by the storm rose over the Pinnacles and Mt Ngauruhoe was barely visible until late in the afternoon of the third day, when there was a brief clearing. It was long enough to capture the sculpture in the foreground and the peak of Mt Ngauruhoe where we made the first sculpture on the Fine Line over 20 years ago.
Twelve circles pierce the disc referring to the 12 sculptures connected by the Fine Line around the earth.
With the ecological climate crisis upon us the world now enters its most critical stage in history, humanity’s choice of trajectory will decide its fate. With this in mind we feel the Fine Line Project could not be more relevant.
Huge thanks to all those who have helped us along the way.
We are now working on the book and digital media.
Sky Stone Circle: This sculpure was made by floating pumice stones on the still surface of Lake Taupo in New Zealand in 1993. I wanted the stones to appear to float in the sky so I made the image without showing the surrounding landscape and focussed on the clouds reflected in the lake to achieve the impossible appearance of stones in the sky. I made the sculpture in order to refer to carbon in the atmosphere causing global warming. The circle refers to the design of a circular regenerative economy modeled on nature as its solution.
Here I am floating the volcanic pumice stones to make the sculpture in 1993
In the same year Paul Hawken’s breakthrough book The Ecology of Commerce was published, opening the world’s eyes to the potential of a regenerative economy. Now with an outstounding worldwide group of qualified scientists and researchers he has done it again with DRAWDOWN
The path to reversing global warming in thirty years is within our grasp. Drawdown is the point at which greenhouse gases in the atmosphere begin to decline year by year. The Project Drawdown team over the past few years has identified, researched and modelled the hundred most substantive existing solutions to address climate change: “The task now is to accelerate the knowledge and growth of what is possible”.
We have just returned from adventures in Europe and China, where we opened two exhibitions of our environmental art.
Andorra Land Art Biennale was the first of its kind and Philippa and I were there to open the international festival with Beyond: the Watershed, a stand alone exhibition of 27 large prints installed in the old historic city of Andorra la Vella. We gave a talk with an audio visual at the official opening which presented the body of work over 20 years and the sustainable design philosophy that underpins it. The presentation included the Fine Line Project preview to a packed auditorium and it was very well received.
We explored Andorra and the surrounding mountain valleys where many works were installed in the grand natural landscape. We were hosted by the organising team led by Pere Moles who put the festival together on a limited budget with volunteer help.
After a few days exploring the mountain villages and Cathar castles of the Pyrenees we headed to Paris where we were hosted by the owners of a famous chateau followed by a meeting with a large global corporation before the long flight to China for the opening of our exhibition there.
Curated by Na Risong at Inter Art Centre and Gallery in the 798 Art Zone Beijing, the exhibition was titled, Temporal Landscapes and installation of the framed prints and the videos was directed very professionally by Ying Cui who also translated the catalogue and wall texts into Chinese.
The opening was enlivened by the arrival of the Kiwi contingent led by John B Turner and Ian McDonald who had arrived back from Pingyao International Photography Festival. We all dined together with Inter Gallery staff and visited the Gao Brothers Studio which was an inspiring experience.
The next day we had a public talk/discussion with Lu Guang the multi award winning documentary photographer who has powerfully exposed the environmental degradation currently happening in China.
With invitations to go back to Paris and China next year we are overwhelmed with work on new proposals and excited by the adventurous possibilities they may bring.
Christchurch suffered so much loss from the earthquake in 2011 and now many housing areas in the red zone are simply gone. Only rough roads and street lamps are left as markers of what once where communities.
Philippa and I were recently commissioned to make an environmental sculpture for Sustainable Coastlines, a national NGO working with volunteer community groups on riparian planting to improve and protect waterways.
The sculpture was made in one of these areas where the ground has subsided creating a wetland beside Anzac Drive where school groups were planting over a thousand natives.
We spent two days there making and positioning the sculpture in the shallow water to stand as a guardian for a while before it eventually decays and becomes part of the wetland from which it was made.
Only the photographs will live on to tell the story.
I was pleased to be invited recently to write for a new media company that is creating a multimedia platform for sharing exceptional ideas, insights, and analysis with the global community. Fair Observer aims to enable their audience to make sense of the world by focusing on issues, events and trends of global significance, and integrating a plurality of perspectives: “providing a 360° view of the world”. They intend to be “the improved 21st century version of The Economist – with exceptional analysis sourced from a network of thought leaders in diverse disciplines from across the globe”.
Fair Observer’s Arts and Culture Desk asked for my perspective on Land Art and Environmental Art accompanied examples of my work.
Read my full article and enjoy Fair Observer:
The combination of clear skies and no wind for several days provided an opportunity to visit my favorite alpine landscape to create new works. Philippa and I climbed up to the Cascade Saddle area in Mt Aspiring National Park and camped for two glorious starry nights.
Finding just the right snow-fed tarn late on the first afternoon, I went to work wading out to make a simple work by floating dry tussock stems. To avoid disturbing the water’s surface meant staying motionless while controlling both the sculpture and the camera.
The sun dipped below the ridge after a few minutes, throwing shadows across my efforts, but I had captured the moment when it all came together as I had planned. The south west ridge of Mt Aspiring beyond – the site of my personal climbing tragedy – draws the eye between the light of the west face down which John fell and the shadow of the south face, and is reflected in the still surface of the tarn. The warm sunlight brought the sculpture alive against the inky shadows of the water. This sublime scene reminds me how delicate and precious life is.
After a freezing night the dawn ushered in another perfect day. Finding remnant frozen snow patches provided the material for another fleeting sculpture. Once placed in the tarn the snow sculpture soon melted, but again I had caught its reflected form along with the high peaks. The image resonates with me about our changing climate and the world’s disappearing ice.
The rest of the day was spent exploring this delicate alpine world high above the Matukituki and Dart Valleys before climbing back up to the ridge above the Matukituki to camp and make a final sculpture from some of the many flat schist rocks.
With the success of Martin Hill – Fragile Canvas exhibition in Wanaka the directors of the Arthouse in Christchurch are exhibiting four of the works in Pop Up II which opens Tuesday 18 October and runs till the 23rd.
Philippa and I are pleased with their support for this work and glad that the long suffering residents of earthquake-torn Christchurch will be able to experience it too.
Pop Up II exhibition can be seen here: http://www.thearthouse.co.nz/exhibitions/71/Pop-Up-II.htm
Gallery 33 Wanaka, Martin Hill – Fragile Canvas complete exhibition and essay: http://www.gallery33.co.nz/whats_on.html?id=142
Interwoven World. 2011 750 x 500 Edition 10
A solo exhibition opening at Gallery 33 in our home town of Wanaka was a very special event because many friends and art lovers attended. There was a party atmosphere with plenty of positive feedback about the work.
The film makers were there to capture it all on film and wrap up their story of our year’s sculpture-making in the local environment. For Philippa and I it was a satisfying culmination of a year’s continuous creative activity.
Martin Hill – Fragile Canvas will also be exhibited at the Otago Museum from 16th to 19th November as part of Otago University Science Teller Festival along with the premiere of the film “Fragile Canvas” by James Blake and Joey Bania on 16th November at the Regent Theatre, Dunedin.
With such a positive response we intend to exhibit Martin Hill – Fragile Canvas in other venues so enquiries from galleries are welcome.
Warm thanks to Melissa Reimer and her team at Gallery 33 Wanaka.
Melissa’s essay and the limited edition prints can be viewed here:
Filming the making of an environmental sculpture on top of a classic rock pinnacle near Wanaka was serious fun. We climbed Tomb Stone Crack to reach an airy platform and hauled up the film gear and set it up. James, one of the film crew climbed the crack to film on top while Joey found good angles from below and on other rock outcrops.
The sculpture was made from rosehips gathered from the wild briar growing on the hillside below. They are an invasive weed here in Central Otago but were a useful seed for our idea. The bright red of the sculpture shone against the lichen covered rock and surrounding crags.
We took the rosehips home with us and that night Philippa turned them into rosehip syrup and cooked pancakes with cream and rosehip syrup. Delicious!
In a two day clear weather window last week Philippa and I made it to this high location with our friendly crew who filmed our efforts making a sculpture from thin slabs of schist gathered from the tops.
We are indebted to Tom and A Rowley of Lake Hawea Station for inviting us to use their farm road for access to reach this vantage point and to camp overnight there looking out towards the Southern Alps.
We intend to return with the film crew to photograph and film the sculpture through the changing seasons.
Here film maker Joey Bania gets up close using a digital SLR video camera.