Saturday, 15 December 2012



                                                       Ohhh... my new heroes... so much inspiration...

Heather Ackroyd and Dan Harvey (b. 1959/1959 England)
have been collaborating since 1990 exploring the themes of growth, 
transformation and decay through a variety of media including sculpture, 
photography, architecture and landscape design. 
Their work juxtaposes nature and structure, 
control and randomness to reveal a time-based practice 
with an intrinsic bias towards process and event. 
Over the last few years Ackroyd & Harvey have made 
a series of expeditions to the High Arctic with the Cape Farewell project, 
looking at the effects of global warming on the ecosystem.

Dilston Grove

Through the application of clay, germinating grass seed, water and natural light 
the boundary between growth and decay, reverie and renewal was exposed within 
this repository of spiritual memory. The artists regarded the architectural structure 
as in some sense being inert, brooding and boarded up, no longer functioning 
in the community. Bringing memory to the surface, the living skin of grass 
literally drew life back within the fabric of the church. A momentary resurrection.

Exploiting the light-sensitivity of young growing grass, they imprint photographic images on to grass grown vertically, so that the image is on the length of the blade, rather than dispersed over the tips. As the grass grows, the image becomes sharper. The further away you stand from the image, the higher the
resolution – the more distinct it is. But time is, of course, embedded in the fragility of these chlorophyll apparitions. We know that the image will fade, the grass will yellow and die. The gradual disappearance of the image from vision, memory, life, is implicit in what we are looking at. Ackroyd and Harvey are
giving photography a performative charge. As Peggy Phelan has pointed out, performance is about disappearance rather than preservation. Performance plunges momentarily into visibility in a maniacally charged present and disappears into memory. Ackroyd and Harvey’s work is a potent evocation of presence and presentness. It briefly delays the passing present but eventually both medium and representation mimic their subject and fade away…”

Whilst in residence in this growing room, other sculptures were created and the installation culminated in a small performance documented by the artists. 
The chance discovery of a pale yellow shadow left by a ladder placed against a grass wall alerted Ackroyd & Harvey to light sensitivity of grass, and suggested the possibility of imprinting images into grass.

Artists Statement
“The act of conservation is a painstaking meditation on the corruptibility of matter. The art is to preserve the object in its existing state from destruction or change, effectively stabilising or slowing down the inexorable process of decay. Yet change is weaved into the fabric of things, perhaps barely visible, unseen, at other times rapid, unforeseen. Working with the light sensitivity of young grass and the pigment chlorophyll, we wish to create a series of photosynthesis photographs taking their subject matter from the idea of memory as fabric, a weaving of experiences and events. 
Re-creating these possible threads of a collective narrative involves literally bringing them to life through the process of germination, growth and photosynthesis. Yet, our living material is itself subject to change and decay and in order to conserve the image for longer, needs to be dried and exhibited in low light. Advances in our understanding of the molecular indices of leaf death have been greatly enhanced through a long- standing relationship with scientists at the Institute of Grassland and Environmental Research. They have developed through a plant-breeding programme, a grass that does not lose its chlorophyll when under stress (termed a stay-green.) Parallels can be drawn between the volatility of very early photographs and the measures taken by the proto-photographers to capture the fleeting image. The relationship between the early art of photography and the science of the day in fixing the ephemeral photographic image is an eloquent dialogue about an essential collaboration between different disciplines, the desire to appropriate images as objects, and the power of commodity.


Tiger Grass Coat

The Grass Coat was first displayed on the catwalk                                                               at the London Hippodrome as part of the Lynx Anti-Fur campaign,                           re-grown for an environmental fashion show in Dublin, 1995,                                        and most recently displayed at Sotheby's, London,                                                                 as part of the Outmoded Decorative Arts exhibition, 2001.

                                         Working on the principle of denying light to areas of growing grass,                            the tiger striped effect was achieved. Where the light fell,                                                the grass produced chlorophyll, where it remained in shade it stayed                                a bright yellow colour.

...some ideas with textiles starts to pop out... :)

Here some good websites about Ackroyd & Harvey:

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