The play of light and shadow is a recurring theme in Ann-Margreth Bohl’s sculptures.
Lumen (the name comes from the standard unit for measuring light) was inspired by two recent journeys. The first was to Portland in Dorset, where Ann-Margreth first began stone-carving (‘I feel a very strong connection to the place’). Looking at cut blocks that were left in the old Portland stone quarries, Ann-Margreth became interested in the spaces between them: ‘I watched how the light moves round in them, at different times of day. A void can be a space where a lot of things are happening.’
The second journey was to Iceland, where Ann-Margreth was fascinated by the abandoned shell of an airliner, which had been left sitting on the black sand of a volcano after it was forced to crash-land, in the Seventies (no-one died). Light coming through the square windows into the dark and empty fuselage again changes the spaces in between.
Lumen plays with some of these ideas. It features four limestone blocks cut into a series of angular planes. There are subtle variations in the angles in the white stone, each of which is like the angle of sunlight at a given moment, as if it were making solid something that is usually fleeting. ‘It’s like I’ve frozen the movement of the light,’ says Ann-Margreth. ‘As humans we can’t do anything to stop time, but we often try.’
The white blocks rest on a bed of black sand: an echo of the Icelandic volcano. For all their precision, the blocks are carved by hand, using Ann-Margreth’s own distinctive method of measuring and calculating angles.
For Ann-Margreth, there’s a pleasing paradox here: ‘working in an immortal material, but using it to represent something as ephemeral as the movement of light’. There’s also something of the Zen garden about the installation: ‘you need to spend a bit of time with it.’ Ann-Margreth has recently been working on a much bigger scale, with her three-metre-tall sculpture Passing Light, for the National Memorial Arboretum. Lumen, too, could serve as a model for something much larger.
How does site alter our response to a work of art?
In this show, New Brewery Arts invites visitors to think about the nature of sculpture and its relationship with the space in which it resides.
Here sculpture and space work hand-in-hand as intertwined themes; the backdrop, or the negative space brings a new perspective to the pieces. Across our buildings, in our gallery, inside and out, this exhibition offers a trail around New Brewery Arts.
Incorporating a range of natural materials including wire, limestone, stone and slate, many of the works have a direct relationship to nature and bring an additional question to the surroundings in which we experience them.
Preparing for ‘A time & a place’, exhibition at New Brewery Arts, Cirencester, PV, 17th January, 11.30am
‘A time& a place’ work by Ann-Margreth Bohl…..
Ann-Margreth a german born artist working predominantly with natural materials stone, beeswax, graphite, string, leather etc.
Through the process of making, utilising inherent qualities of the chosen materials, she explored in both residencies the physical boundaries of a architectural space, resulting in the exhibited graphite wall rubbings ‘Ceasura 1&2’.
With her most recent piece ‘Lichtspielhaus’ (old fashioned german for cinema) she is introducing light and space into her work.
The artist grew up near the border between East and West Germany, the image of ‘die Mauer’ (the Berlin wall) is often revisited in her work, trying to look at the questions why we build walls and what effect walls have on us.
‘Lichtspielhaus’ is going beyond a wall creating a space for us to go.
This work was conceived during her residency in a pillbox in Stanton St Bernard near Marlborough in Whiltshire, a solid concrete structure for english soldiers to observe and anticipate the german enemy from.
The beeswax used in this installation comes from Germany, the artist is mindful of this and of the effort that bees have put into this material that they use to store their food and protect their young.
As a sculptor, with 20 years experience in direct stone carving, I have develop a strong sense of working with a natural material in a physical direct way, alerting my senses in the process of it. In recent years I have experimented with materials and techniques. Focusing on the process of making I incorporate materials like cloth, wax, paper, discovering qualities that expand my sculptural skills, returning new finds indirectly to the direct carving. I am interested in light, shadow, form as negative imprint, form fully realised, mobility of form. My aim is to observe and capture fleeting moments, combining permanent materials like stone with ephemeral materials and processes. I have been fortunate to have the opportunity to share this approach with young adults and adults who have taken part in my direct stone carving courses over the last 10 years. On this background I have been commissioned by New Brewery Arts/ Cirencester to create a project investigating with the aid of digital tools my process and the process of groups who partake in direct stone carving. As well as me being ‘wired up’ in my studio, spring 2015 ‘Echo’ will take part in several secondary schools where I am running stone carving workshops and digitally record those. ‘Echo’ is a project in it’s early stages, my experiences with the digital medium are new and I am excited where a connection between handmade and digital will take me in my own practise. The impact of information and communications technology is vast and gains importance in many creative areas, with a multitude of possibilities, the restrictions are of a very different nature to the once in a handmade process, where qualities of a material and the engaging process through skill form possibilities and boundaries. Pretty much anything in the material world can be made through 3-D printing, products in engineering and design to medicine, touching into all areas of our society, with it grows fascination and many questions.
So how can the handmade connect to the digital?
Whilst making by hand experiences move to a holistic memory inside the maker. It is a process that encompasses a multitude of skills and continuously develops because of it, we see, we act, we touch, we think, we decide on the next step to take which tool to use, out of this grows the journey to the finished object, with a new set of skills of how to use a tool to extract certain aspects out of a material, a understanding of how the material responds. As a skilled maker I know instinctively about the restrictions of a material and it’s possibilities.The hand made process of learning consists of repetition and a collection of embodied memory.
The digital process differs from the handmade and connects equally. When using ‘Rhino’ 3-D modelling software, forms are generated and designed through CAD, when moving and shifting forms on the screen, all is much faster, almost instant, a fluid experience, opposite to the weeks it takes to create a carving. Yet I notice the same gut feeling towards the form on the screen as to the one on the workbench, perhaps my memory of form is so embedded that it relates to all forms,physical as well as virtual ones. So how can I build on this connection between the two?During direct stone carving a soundscape is generated by which the experienced stone carver can tell a lot about the material and about the person interacting with the material. In ‘Echo’ I am using digital technologies at different points to survey the ‘intuitive knowing’.
-During the carving process as a tool for collecting data, the sound of carving/ the physical touch of the maker with the material/ the internal sound in the stone when it is being carved/ scanning of forms at different stages of the process. -Followed by the analysing of data, detecting emerging patterns and forms. -Finally utilising ‘digested’ data, I am designing sculptural forms which will be 3-D printed. With the hand carved sculptures and 3-D printed sculptures I am creating a installation as part of my residency at New Brewery Arts summer 2015.
‘Echo’ is a starting point for my own practice to enrich the direct intuitive approach with digital technology. I see ‘Echo’ as a opportunity to engage with contemporary making practise, rooted in the oldest tradition of making.
‘Echo’ highlights some aspects of the direct stone carving process through 3-D printed forms ‘grown’ out of a digital data.