Cumbria is a region which has felt the unforgiving fury of global warming first hand. The county is still raw and very much recovering from the devastating effects of flooding which took place less than twelve months ago. The destruction of the floods left no one untouched, whether directly or as a community, starkly reminding us how insignificant society is when up against the enormous force of nature.
With this in mind, the very heart of Cumbria is the perfect location for a unique exhibition, inspired by nature, global warming and sustainability to take place. It is also why every one of us should make the effort to witness and be moved by a spectacular work of art which promises to be powerful, poignant and thought-provoking as it serves as a reminder of the fragility of our planet. Minimum Monument is an exhibition by the internationally acclaimed Brazilian artist Néle Azevedo, featuring thousands of 200mm tall ice figures which will be placed around the grounds of Kendal Castle, while the public is invited to watch as the beautifully crafted sculptures gradually melt and return to rain water over the course of a few hours.
This public intervention artwork offers an opportunity for volunteers to join the artist and her team in the creation of some 3,000 ice sculptures ahead of the final exhibition, which will take place as part of Lakes Alive festival on Sunday 28th August. Earlier this week, armed with a couple of simple metal tools and a rubber glove, I chipped away at my own iceman and placed him in the freezer to await his moment of glory. A small contribution to a task which will take ten days of 400 sculptures being made in each 24 hour cycle. It’s the enormity of this task which is why Néle Azevedo and her team are asking for volunteers to join them in the creation of the icemen in preparation for the exhibition. Anyone who finds themselves intrigued by this innovative project, touched by the relevance it holds for the region or just wants to chill out for a few hours - ice sculpting is surprisingly therapeutic - are encouraged to join the workshops which will take place on Monday 23rd to Thursday 26th August from 1pm - 5pm in the artists temporary studio in K Village, Kendal. As well as a free therapy session, I can promise you a fierce sense of fulfilment and pride from your involvement, each of these small contributions makes a big difference in working towards what will no doubt be a spectacular finished product next Sunday.
Alongside Minimum Monument, Néle Azevedo also presents the art installation, How To Reach Birds In Flight, which is being exhibited as part of the open studios at K Village. The work began life as aircrafts flying over the artists studio in Sao Paolo and features photography and video installations focusing on the flight paths of aeroplanes and Amazonian birds. However, there is much more to the installation than initially meets the eye, as the artist herself explains,
“I wanted to reflect on the romantic idea of trying to reach and grasp birds in flight.” She says.
“Man thought man could conquer nature… but after 300 years of modernity, we are now faced with the realisation that our resources are no longer infinite.”
“Man is insignificant against the enormous element of nature.”
The studios are open to the public from Wednesday 17 - Saturday 27 August (except Sundays), free of charge.
Composer Annie Mahtani will create a unique live soundscape to the artwork. Microphones have been frozen inside a small number of figures. The live sound of the ice melting will be mixed live alongside pre-recorded sounds from the studio and making process.
Minimum Monument takes place on Sunday 28th August, 12pm - 3pm at Kendal Castle for more information visit http://lakesalive.co.uk/shows/minimum-monument
By Sarah Sinclair