Vessel

photographic installation (1998)

installatioin shot installation shot


Commissioned by Photo 98, as part of the Year of the Photographic and Digital Image, and sited at the Mappin Art Gallery in Sheffield.

This installation utilises the photographic medium and processes combined with assemblage and collage. Sharply defined, richly coloured photographs are presented on back illuminated transparencies and free hung end to end down the centre of the gallery to create an illuminated pathway. This escorts the viewer along the darkened gallery, as if through a narrative but one without a beginning or an end.

Holland’s photographic translucent images depict the artist’s vision of a personal, inner world. These constructed colour photographs show a preoccupation with time and change, growth and fecundity. Scientific tools - pipettes, test tubes, and flasks are combined with roots and eggs, insect wings, hooks, clocks and rusting scales weighing defunct hearts. This is a highly coloured world captured in mid flow, a metaphorical x-ray vision of the body. Transparency is an integral part of the installation, the photographic image and the initial image making. Light effects a change on the objects/materials used, often making them translucent, allowing a view of what’s underneath. The translucency, silhouetting and layering of objects and creatures reinforces impressions of both presence and absence. Contrasted to these are blue toned histological images of the body and certain biological transmutations; red blood corpuscles, ovary and cell walls, spermatozoa, stages of meiosis; the process of gamete cell replication, plant cells and their transformation into a fruit. There are also small inset illustrations of 16th Century engravings of alchemists ‘vessels’ that also reflect the developmental processes of ‘transmutation’ of material, from the mundane to the precious.

Layered within these histological images is the image of a running dog. This refers to the Egyptian myth of the jackal-headed deity Anubis, the dog who accompanied the deceased in the journey to the Otherworld, and supervised the weighing of their hearts. Small colour images of hearts and weighing scales are also dropped into these panels. The heart is important in this work as both symbol and in its biological action of preserving life; the machine that should never stop. This is contrasted with the hearts contained within the images: broken, punctured organs, whose importance is purely their weight.

This work has toured to several venues both in the UK and abroad as part of the Wellcome Trust’s ‘Truth and Beauty’ exhibition.

vessel vessel

Reviews
essay from the book; ‘The Unlikely Suspects’

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