From The Huffington Post

November 05, 2012

Big Coal Bullying Prompts University to Destroy Artwork

Bullied by coal companies and their allies in the Wyoming legislature, the University of Wyoming earlier this year caved to threats that millions of dollars in funding were in jeopardy if they didn’t remove an outdoor art installation on the university campus that Big Coal deemed offensive.

The sculpture, “Carbon Sink: What Goes Around Comes Around,” was installed on the campus by British artist Chris Drury in July 2011. A spiral of logs made from trees killed by a pine-beetle infestation, the center of the 36-foot-diameter sculpture featured coal-blackened logs surrounded by lumps of coal.

The $45,000 piece was paid for by an anonymous donor and the Wyoming Cultural Trust. Drury, pictured below installing the piece, said the sculpture wasn’t intended as a political statement, but he hoped it would prompt viewers to “have a conversation about climate change,” which scientists say has exacerbated a pine beetle infestation that has decimated more than 3 million acres of lodgepole pine forest in Wyoming.

But no sooner had the piece been installed than fossil fuel executives and coal-friendly lawmakers began lashing out, implying that the university was treading on thin ice.

“While I would never tinker with the University of Wyoming budget — I’m a great supporter of the university — every now and then you have these opportunities to educate some of the folks at the University of Wyoming about where their paychecks come from,” state Republican majority leader Tom Lubnau told the Casper Star-Tribune.

Martin Loomis, executive director of the Wyoming Mining Association, pointed out in the same newspaper that the university “get[s] millions of dollars in royalties from oil, gas, and coal to run the university, and then they put up a monument attacking me and demonizing the industry. I understand academic freedom, and we’re very supportive of it, but it’s still disappointing.”

Initially the university insisted that the sculpture would remain in place for at least two years and perhaps indefinitely as it naturally decayed. But behind the scenes, much stronger language and tactics were being used to cow university officials, as revealed by emails requested by Wyoming Public Radio and recently obtained by the Star-Tribune.

“Don, what kind of crap is this?” Loomis demanded of the university’s director for governmental and community affairs.

In an email to oil and gas company officials, civic leaders, and major donors to the university, Petroleum Association of Wyoming President Bruce Hinchey wrote:

“The next time the University of Wyoming is asking for donations it might be helpful to remind them of this and other things they have done to the industries that feed them before you donate. They always hide behind academic freedom but their policies and actions can change.”

Elected officials from Campbell County, home to some of the biggest coal mines in the U.S., called for a hunt to find out which university officials knew about the sculpture prior to its installation. “We are going to get to the bottom of who knew what and when they knew it,” Rep. Kermit Brown of Laramie, where the university is located, wrote in an email to a UW trustee.

Tom Lubnau, who represents Campbell County, emailed university officials saying he was considering introducing legislation “to avoid any hypocrisy at UW by insuring that no fossil fuel derived tax dollars find their way into the University of Wyoming funding stream.”

Rep. Elaine Harvey of Gillette, also in Campbell County, emailed university president Tom Buchanan, saying, “It never ceases to amaze me how the UW invites folks that spit in the face of the very system that writes the checks to pay the bills at the university.”

Meanwhile, a joint committee of senators and representatives in charge of budget decisions demanded an accounting of art at the university, including a description of the art and how it was paid for.

The threats and fear-mongering worked. Less than a year after “Carbon Sink” was installed, the university quietly and without public announcement removed the artwork. When asked why the sculpture had been removed, school officials said it was due to water damage.

But the newly-public emails reveal that President Buchanan, who had come under increasingly heavy fire from the fossil fuel industry once they learned that he had approved the sculpture, decided the piece should be removed “given the controversy it has generated.” And immediately after the decision was made, another university official emailed coal-friendly legislators saying the piece was “being demolished.”

“The only way the University of Wyoming could have handled the removal of controversial public art piece ‘Carbon Sink’ any worse is if they would have used the coal and wood from the artwork as a pyre to roast the artist,” editorialized the Star-Tribune.

It’s tough to blame President Buchanan, who is charged first and foremost with promoting academic excellence and keeping his university a successful going concern. But it is a sorry statement that Big Coal and its allies in the state legislature are so paranoid that a piece of art on a university campus would send them into fits of apoplexy and prompt them to shamelessly quash freedom of expression by demanding its removal.

“It has always amazed me that the coal folks talk about how their industry supports the state and the University, but in reality the coal comes off of public lands and is leased at under market value to the companies,” says Wyoming-based Sierra Club organizer Steve Thomas. “The coal is public coal being sold to private companies. The bulk of the money coal generates comes from the sale of that coal. So really, the university is partially paid for by the sale of public coal not by the largess of the coal companies.”

Rep. Lubnau — he who would “never tinker with the University of Wyoming budget” — and his Campbell County colleague Gregg Bilkre have called for a sculpture of energy workers to be erected on campus.

All photos courtesy of Chris Drury


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And Yet another on Carbon Sink

October 31, 2012

This is the best piece of writing about “Carbon Sink” in the last few weeks.  It is incisive and powerful in the analysis of what UW might have done…

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Carbon Sink, The Dispute continues – An article by Daniel Frosch in the New York Times today

October 27, 2012

Art That Irked Energy Executives Is

Gone, but Wyoming Dispute Whirls


Chris Drury

The University of Wyoming removed “Carbon Sink,” by Chris Drury, after receiving complaints.

Published: October 26, 2012

LARAMIE, Wyo. — The idea behind the sculpture that appeared on the University of Wyoming campus about 16 months ago was simple but provocative: a swirl of dead wood and lumps of coal, intended to show the link between global warming and the pine beetle infestation that has ravaged forests across the Rockies.

But in a place like Wyoming, where the oil, gas and mining industries are the soul of the economy, some view such symbolism as a declaration of war.

And ever since the British artist Chris Drury installed the 36-foot-diameter sculpture, called “Carbon Sink,” the university has been embroiled in a bitter controversy, which eventually led to the quiet removal of the artwork last spring after energy officials and their political allies complained to administrators.

The dispute over the sculpture — part of a series of campus installations commissioned by the university’s art museum — has continued to dog the university after it released e-mails discussing the artwork.

The e-mails, first obtained by Wyoming Public Radio, showed that the university’s president, Tom Buchanan, privately asked that the sculpture be dismantled a year ahead of schedule because of the uproar surrounding it.

In a note on April 13 to the director of the university’s art museum, Dr. Buchanan wrote that it would be best to remove the sculpture, “given the controversy that it has generated.”

His note followed objections raised by local lawmakers and officials in Wyoming’s energy industry, which helps support the university through state taxes and felt betrayed.

What is this? Marion Loomis, the executive director of the Wyoming Mining Association, said to a university official in an e-mail, using a mild profanity for emphasis. “I am all for freedom of expression, but putting a permanent piece blasting the coal industry while taking millions in royalties, A.M.L. fees and severance taxes strikes me as a stab in the back.” A.M.L., short for abandoned mine lands, refers to a reclamation fee.

In another e-mail, to Dr. Buchanan, State Representative Thomas E. Lubnau II threatened to introduce legislation that would ensure that “no fossil-fuel-derived tax dollars find their way in the University of Wyoming funding stream.”

Mr. Lubnau, a Republican from energy-rich Campbell County, said he subsequently told the university that he was not serious about cutting financing, and emphasized that he never called for the sculpture’s removal.

“I don’t think the university planned for the consequences of its actions very well,” he said. “But I have never commented publicly on the artist or the merit of the art. I’ve always maintained that tensions in ideas make us stronger.”

Mr. Lubnau added, “I’m not afraid of any idea.”

Mr. Loomis, of the mining association, said that the group was not trying to tell the university what art to display, but that it had a right to complain about something it deemed offensive.

“We felt like it was a slap,” he said. “So we reacted. We may have overreacted. We’re over it.”

But if the controversy is finished for the energy industry, it is not for the university.

E-mails show that one university official told an alumnus that the sculpture was removed early from its perch on an expanse of grass because of water damage — an irrigation line had broken in the area.

An editorial on Monday in The Casper Star-Tribune criticized the university for misleading the public over the reason the artwork was taken down.

Dr. Buchanan declined to comment on the matter. Chris Boswell, a vice president at the university, said that the explanation given to the alumnus was a mistake, and that no official reason had ever been released.

Mr. Boswell also pointed out that the sculpture remained intact for nearly a year — evidence, he said, that the university had not acquiesced to pressure.

“There are scholarly efforts, research efforts that occur on campus which I’m sure industry is not thrilled about, but occur on a daily basis,” he said. “At the same time, the university is very well dialed into the industries of this state.”

“Any institution is smart to be mindful of controversy,” Mr. Boswell added. “Does that translate into the muddling of opinions? No, I don’t believe so.”

Amid the fallout from the controversy, lawmakers passed a measure that requires artwork for a newly renovated campus recreation center to reflect Wyoming’s history of transportation, agriculture and minerals.

The measure also gives Gov. Matt Mead, along with the university’s Energy Resources Council — composed primarily of energy industry representatives — final say on the art selected.

Mr. Mead, a Republican, said at a recent news conference that he did not feel it was appropriate for him to review the art.

Jeff Lockwood, a professor of natural sciences and humanities who has been outspoken in his frustration over the university’s handling of the sculpture, said outrage had grown among students and faculty members.

“I’m disappointed that the university caved in to that sort of extortion and that sort of implied threat,” Dr. Lockwood said. “And I’m angry that this sort of behavior on the part of private industry, as well as their effectiveness in lobbying our elected officials, would lead to an act of artistic censorship on a university campus.”

A version of this article appeared in print on October 27, 2012, on page A15 of the New York edition with the headline: Art That Irked Energy Executives Is Gone, but Wyoming Dispute Whirls On.
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Pertaining to Things natural

August 31, 2012

Pertaining to Things Natural

Owen Bullet, James Cooper, Annie Catrell, Joe Currie, Judith Dean, Chris Drury, Tessa Farmer, James P Graham, Tim Knowles, Tania Kovats, Keith Rand, Peter Randall-Page, William Peers, Michael Shaw, Cathy Ward and Eric Wright, Julian Ward, Hugo Wilson, David Worthington.

Lit - William Peers - Italian marble, 2012

John Martin Gallery
38 Albemarle Street
London, W1S 4JG
T +44 (0)20 7499 1314
Mon-Fri 10 – 6, Sat 11- 4

The gallery exhibition brings together related drawings, paintings and sculpture by artists
taking part in Pertaining to Things Natural at the Chelsea Physic Garden. Curated by David
Worthington and running until 31 October, Pertaining to Things Natural features the work of
21 artists installed in the grounds of London’s oldest botanic garden.
Pertaining to Things Natural
Sculpture at The Chelsea Physic Garden, until 31 October 2012
66 Royal Hospital Road, London, SW3 4HS
Open: Tue-Fri, 12 – 5pm, Sun 12 – 6pm
Admission price: £9/£6 concs.



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Carbon Sink – The continuing saga

August 13, 2012

University of Wyoming are now censoring all sculpture installations on Campus. Any new proposed work has to go before a committee which includes members of the energy companies. Read Jeff Lockwood’s new article in Wyofile.

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Kings Canyon

June 21, 2012

On the 21st I leave Yulara and drive North to Kings Canyon. This time to avoid any feeling of being in a Butlins holiday camp I stop at a small private bush campsite 32 K short of the park. It is a great site and they provide firewood for campfires. This is really the busiest season, it is too hot in the summer. So at this time of year the place experiences the grey exodus – retired couples in their SUVs towing large and comfortable caravans. I am of the same generation, but I am on my own in a miniscule one man mountain tent, with a thermomat and sleeping bag, a small gas burner, a fold up pan, one spoon and a plastic cup. I have also brought some freeze dried one man meals, which only require a cup full of boiling water – 5 minutes and hey presto – supper. It is all a bit of a contrast to what is served up in the caravans.

But these folk are friendly and I get to warm up and have a chat, with a glass of wine in these desert cruisers.

On the first evening I wander out to a lookout point where there is a water hole for the cattle. Taking advantage of this are a herd of at least 100 wild camels.

At this point I am reading a fair bit about the history of Australia’s colonisation, as well as talking to the descendants of some of those colonisers. At times there is a strong undercurrent of racism towards the original inhabitants and one feels there are many social undercurrents here. I also read a book by an aboriginal author on their spiritual systems. It is really an extraordinary and beautiful world view – close to Buddhism.

The following day I make an early start and head out to do the canyon rim walk, which is very beautiful.

ancient sea bed - Central Australia was an inland sea

Then it is back to Alice – a flight to Sydney – then home. I am beginning to have very clear ideas about what I want to make in Canberra next year.

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Kata Tjuta

June 19, 2012

On the 18th I headed out to Kata Tjuta, what is called the Olgas by the white tribe. I was told that these are much less visited and I would be able to wander free and unobstructed with few people around. In fact the exact opposite was true, there were coach loads of noisy young people and chattering couples. You had to keep strictly to the path – a 7 K loop and most of the time I had to stop and wait to avoid becoming entangled in noise and distraction. So bad was it that in the end I went off trail and hid in a quiet corner until most of the rush had moved on, then I rejoined the trail. Even so the place was still extraordinary and powerful in a different way.

The Aboriginis’ say this is a mens site and the path again keeps you well away from anything interesting. At the end of the trail there was a party of university students who were being given a geology lesson under the shade of a shelter. So I too was able to learn of something of the geological origins of the place – by eavesdropping! Kata Tjuta, Uluru and Mount Conner are all on a line of an ancient glacier which during a warming period dropped the detritus collected by the ice. The Olgas are made up of conglomerate rock – big lumps glued by compressed clay. This is the heaviest stuff so gets deposited first, The light sands drop later forming Uluru and Mount Conner, which are later compressed with silica to form sand stone. Uluru is like an iceberg – only the top 1/3 is above the surface. Eventually as the Earths crust squeezes together – forming the ripples of the MacDonnel ranges, so these large compressed deposits are forced to the surface, where they begin to erode with water and wind.

Later in the evening I watch the domes turn flaming red in the dying sunlight.

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The Red Centre – Uluru

June 16, 2012

On the the 16th June, I left Canberra to spend 8 days exploring the red central deserts. I wanted to go to the spiritual heart of Australia which has been inhabited by aboriginal tribes for at least 100,000 years. By going to the heart of the continent I felt instinctively that this would point me towards an idea and a form for the work in Canberra. I wanted the land itself to speak to me.

I took a flight to Alice Springs where I spent a night, then headed off the next day in a rented car for Uluru and Kata Tjuta national park.

The Simpson Desert from the air


Sunset over Uluru on the evening of the 17th June


I had a small tent with me so I camped at the only campground at Yulara. The temperature at this time of year (winter) drops to -5 in the early hours of the morning, and although the sun is hot when it rises, the air temperature remains pleasantly cool. The following day I did the walk around the rock. Everything here is very prescribed and you have to keep to the marked paths, which are very limiting. In fact they are designed to keep you well away with the most sacred areas of the rock. But that is quite understandable. It is however a bit of a Stonehenge experience strong on ‘keep off’. Never-the-less it is an extraordinary beautiful and powerful place. When I first caught site of the rock it made me growl deep in my throat, why I can’t say, but then it also made me cry because it hits you somewhere deep in your guts.

the vegetation is also surprisingly lush, mainly because within the last three years it has rained a lot. There is Desert Oak, Mulga, Bloodwood and the ubiquitous Spinifex grass, to name a few.



bloodwood waves

Wave rock

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Australia – Canberra

June 14, 2012

2013 is the centenary of the planning of the capital city of Canberra and I am being commissioned to make a site specific work for the Australian National University on a site within the campus overlooking the lake. In the far distance is a peak in the Namidgi National park, which is the source of the water for the city.

sculpture site

I arrived in Canberra on 12th June and spent 4 days exploring the city, looking for a site, thinking about materials and talking to various people who might help me. I was also participating in a show on Antarctica at the Drill Hall Gallery where I was showing the 3 screen video Ice Streams for the first time.

On the 14th David and Keven took me for a trip out to the hills of Namidgi to see the lie of the land and and to look at some aboriginal rock paintings. At the park we were joined by two park wardens: Paul from the UK and Jay, an Aboriginal guide. Jay was able able to point out various plants and animals along the way – particularly the plants you could eat. We saw various species of bird including wedge tailed eagles, a dingo and the many Kangaroos which, because of the creation of more grasslands are reaching plague numbers.

Scribbly bark beetle


aboriginal shelter


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Invisible Traces, Schloss Werdenberg, Switzerland

May 29, 2012

There are three works, which were commissioned for the Schlossmediale festival
  1. Mushroom Cloud – Installed into a windowless stone room in the basement of the castle, the work is 5 m. tall by 2.3 m. wide. You enter the room by a low archway from where all that is visible is the glowing base, as you stand in the room you are forced to look up into the umbrella of the mushroom cloud which is composed of around 18,000 dried mushroom slices.
  2. Dust to Dust, Ashes to Ashes – This work is painted in dust and ashes from the castle and so contains some of its invisible history.
  3. Log Pile Spore Print – This piece was burned onto the ends of a log pile in the village, using a cooking blow lamp. The village of Werdenberg is the oldest wooden village in Europe.






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The Festival at Schloss Werdenberg is now open and in full swing. It’s concept is INVISIBLE TRACES and it encompasses, installations, sound installations, music installations and site specific dance and music, including an aerial dance up the side of the outside of the castle. Go to the website to see the program and images, interviews etc: This is a truly amazing event. My own works will be up there for the whole of the summer season.

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Antarctica Show – Drill Hall gallery, Canberra

May 24, 2012

ANTARCTICADrill Hall Gallery, Australian National University, Canberra.

24th May – 1st July 2012


catalogue available from:

I had two works in this show: Albatross Print and a whole room devoted to the three screen video Ice Streams.

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Thursday 3rd May, Shloss Werdenberg

May 04, 2012

On Robs instructions Gabbi, Kathrin and I headed off by train to the deepest lake in Switzerland, we took a ferry across the lake and walked for two hours or so up the mountain to see the  highest waterfall in Switzerland – spectacular now because of the spring snow melt. Had a picnic lunch in  a flower meadow and finally got to the waterfall, which was a wow. We made a couple of balanced cairns close to the rushing water and precipice – then headed back to the village for the ferry home. Weather was amazing – hot and Gabbi swam while waiting for the ferry – it was almost too cold to dip a toe in, let alone swim!

Were home by 4.00 so went to see the Mushroom Cloud with the scaffolding dismantled. It works really well, but needs a tripod and a wide angle lens to get a good photo. In the evening we met at Kurt’s for Shiitake risotto – Rob, Alesandra, Gabbi, Kathrin, Kurt and Dorro. Julia turned up just as we were all going home! I have had a really good time here.



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Wednesday 2nd May, Schloss Werdenberg

Today we took the day off and Gabbi and I went on a local hike with instructions from Julia. We managed to get hopelessly lost and ended up at the wrong waterfall. In the evening I took everyone out for a meal in the town. There were 6 of us and Rob and Julia, turned up later. There is a tradition here of staying on in a restaurant and drinking till the early hours, often a table is reserved for anyone to do this.  I was knackered and went home at 10.30 but the rest stayed talking till midnight or more.


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Tuesday 1st May – Shloss Werdenberg

I was up early and finished the log pile by 11.00 am. Then 4 of us carried on stringing mushrooms. By 5.30 we had one round to go – but with 64 instead of 32 strings – only 3 mushrooms to the string though. As we were into the groove we decided to go for it with Johnny Cash turned up loud. By 7.30 we were done. Amazing we seem to work out the best system without saying anything. Rob was up the top hanging them on.

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Monday 30th April, Schloss Werdenberg

April 30, 2012

On Sunday we sealed mushrooms, but I made a bad underestimate of how many we needed, so the helpers have had to do more today, plus rows 11, 12, 13 are done.  5 more to go – we will be finished on Wednesday. I plan to take them all out for a meal in the evening, then on Thursday Kurt will do a giant mushroom risotto for all with the unused mushrooms.

Meanwhile, the weather was calmer today so I started the log pile spore print burning. I am using a cooking glazer – torch burner, which works well. Torch in one hand, water spray in the other – so far no conflagration!

the drawing is based loosely on this print

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Sunday 29th – A day in the mountains

April 29, 2012

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Schloss Medial Werdenberg – Friday 25th May – Sunday 3rd June

April 27, 2012

I am working now from 19th April – 4th May on the three Mushroom installations at the castle. Please see the blog for updates and information.

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Friday 27th April, Schloss Werdenberg

The foehn has finally dissipated into a hot breeze and it looks like Spring has come to the Alps. We move from hot sunshine into the fridge of the castle. As you cross the threshold it is like stepping back into winter. We are now two thirds of the way through the mushroom piece and we are running out of large pieces.

We had ordered another batch from Italy, but they announced today that they don’t work Fridays, Monday is a holiday and they don’t work Tuesday either, but they might get them to us on Wednesday or Thursday – too late as I leave on Friday. This is not at all unusual for Italian companies, so when we phoned again today there was a secretary in the office who could help if we could find transport before midday when she goes home. The problem was the paperwork needed to take foodstuffs into Switzerland. In the end she suggested an express service who could deliver to Katerine’s parents house in South Tyrol, they would then drive them to Innsbruck where there was a big family party on Saturday which Katerine was going to by train. All she needed to do was to put them in a big suitcase and bring them back with her to Buchs in the evening by train. Phew! Where there is a will there is a way.



Tomorrow Gabi and I are taking a day off to go and walk up in the mountains. She has worked out all sorts of buses, trains and cable cars to get us to a starting point. Should be great. Meanwhile I am waiting for a wet day to burn that spore print into the log pile.

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Thursday 26th April, Shloss Werdenberg

April 26, 2012

Foehn winds gathering in the mountains

The Foehn has been blowing hard all day, and you can feel the pressure in your head. It has given me a perpetual headache today. Never-the-less we are making good progress stringing mushrooms, 3 0r 4 us are onto it, and we have music going full blast so the castle sounds like there is a party going on.


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Wednesday 25th April, Schloss Werdenberg

April 25, 2012

On Monday 23rd April my second Grandson was born in Sweden, Mum and baby all doing well. I am delighted – he looks just like Ossian and today I learned he will be called Rufus Willow Woxneryd. Wonderful – Rowan is continuing the tradition of tree names and he is a brilliant strapping BOY!


Yesterday it rained and it pored, by morning the Mountains were plastered with snow, and a wind was blowing spindrift off the peaks and strange elongated clouds were forming. I was informed that the Foehn wind was on its way, and by midday a very strong wind was blowing – blasts of warmish air – it makes people sick and drives them mad.

Work is progressing on the strung mushrooms and Dust to Dust is now finished, we had a problem finding any dust in the castle as the cleaners are ultra efficient, but Rob and I managed to hoover a few roof beams, which produced a tar laden dust with a rather beautiful ochre colour. Ashes were taken from wood burning stoves.

Despite the Foehn, Rob and I managed to complete the stacking of the log pile. We had to partially demolish the original because the new logs are a lighter colour, so we stacked these as a central circle and continued on up to the arch. Log stacking is an art here and it is really good to be able to highlight it. Rob is Australian, stopped here 20 years ago on his way to Britain, fell in love and never left. We made a good job of the stack.

The village of Werdenberg is more or less unique as it is the oldest surviving European village built of wood, and remains virtually unchanged on the outside. You can imagine that the locals are keen to carry on preserving it and there are strict rules against smoking inside and out. Verboten!

It is quite extraordinary that the old guy whose house and stack it is we are using, has agreed that I can burn or scorch a mushroom spore print onto the log ends. He says his neighbours may not be so pleased. We will do it on a wet day with no foehn blowing and with fire extinguishers to hand. I hardly want to be known as the artist who burned down the oldest wood village in Europe!

Tonight I had dinner with 5 of the women helpers and organisers: Mirella, Gabi, Carla, Carella and Ava, Mirellas 5 yr old daughter. Even Pina, Carla’s dog is female.  We had the dinner here in the Hohmeisters house and they brought the food. I chopped vegetables, but Gabi cooked it.


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Mushroom Cloud – the first 25 strings

April 22, 2012

Nearly 4000 dried mushrooms strung on 25 lines of nylon thread. Another 9000 still to be strung and we may have to order another 5 Kilos of the things. Someone says they are shitake.

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Saturday 21st April, theading mushrooms

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Schloss Werdenberg

April 20, 2012

I arrived here yesterday by plane, and then train from Zurich to Buchs, which sits on the Rhine, bordering Lichtenstein. Snow was plastered all over the peaks and the lakes were like glass in the morning sun, while the fields were yellow with dandelions and blossom was on all the fruit trees.

I am here to make  3 installations in the castle for the festival  in May – called Traces, which will encompass music, sound and visual installations. Pipilotti Rist lives in the village and has a work in the castle. I am making a mushroom Cloud in a beautiful and austere tall square stone room on the first floor. There are no windows in the room and we have put a false floor in so we can light the work from beneath as at Arte Sella. This work however will be taller and altogether bigger and will fill the room forcing the viewer, who has to duck to get in a low entrance, to look up.

The mushrooms have come from the same supplier in Italy – 5 hours drive away, and Stefan and his crew have been making an amazing job of the frame and scaffolding. The light is a stage spot which gets very hot and we have been debating if the perspex will get too hot and catch fire – but we have found a solution.

The crew

the base


At Arte Sella we used around 6000 mushroom pieces, here there will be double that and we may have to go and get some more. They are all dipped in sealer and dried – again something done by a team of diligent helpers; some local, some from Berlin and Italy. German is the language spoken here – but alas I don’t speak it – wish I did.

So we have made 9 of the 25 rows needed for the stem on the first day. I have also spotted a perfect log stack under an arch in the village. Densely packed and neat, it is owned by an elderly man who has agreed to let me scorch a mushroom spore print onto it. The other one, painted in dust and ashes will be in a vaulted arch inside the entrance stairway of the castle.

So I have a lot of work to do and two weeks in which to do it. I would like a spare day to climb a mountain too.

On Monday my 3rd grandchild will be born in a hospital in Malmo, so there is much to look forward too and I have been scrabbling to get some internet connection so I can get the news as it comes and hopefully pictures too. I am getting good at being a grandad. Last week I took Esme (aged 6) to Tate Modern to see the two magic Kusama rooms and the live butterflies in the Damian Hirst show – carefully skirting much of the rest but walking through the Mother and Child Divided, and past the dying flies, with much yucking from Esme! In fact she was entranced by the beach ball suspended on a draught of air, and moved backwards and forwards half a dozen times between the two magic Kusama spot rooms.

The festival at Schloss Werdenberg opens on May 25th. My installations will remain for the year.


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WAVES OF TIME, an article for Art South Africa Magazine

March 22, 2012


In the spring of 2011 I was invited by the Nirox foundation to research material for a commission out on the Cradle of Humankind. I have been making site-specific work all over the world for the last 30 years. In that time I have worked with heart surgeons in the UK looking at the connections between systems in the body and systems on the planet; with astronomers in Nashville, Tennessee and glaciologists in Antarctica. I look at place and context, nature and culture. Underlying all of my work is a concern for how we can live sustainably on this planet. This was my first visit to Africa, long overdue and much anticipated. At Nirox I spent three weeks exploring the landscape, talking to experts and trying to get under the skin of it all. The Cradle holds the origins to the human race, but first I wanted to go back in geological time and see something of the early formation of the planet itself. So I went with Professor Roger Gibson, a geologist at Wits, to the Vredefort Dome.

We started and finished the day at the epicentre of where a 10 kilometre long rock hit the Earth two billion years ago and which made a crater 300 km wide with a 40 km upwelling in the centre, of which only a semi-circle of low hills at the perimeter remains today. We looked at granite which had been reduced to plasticine. We saw huge seams of melted rock caused by massive friction. We saw mountains of upended horizontal rock strata, and rock which had been shattered in hatched patterns, seen nowhere else but impact craters. How do you stretch your mind to include such a massive event that happened in an unimaginably distant time? As the sun set we returned to the epicentre, to a line of boulders, which was all that remained of an eroded seam of pseudotachylite melted rock, and on which acid drips from an ancient forest had eroded cup-like indentations. 30,000 years ago the San people had lived and hunted here. They noticed these water-filled cups in the rock and made these boulders the site of ritual trance dances to bring rain, fresh grass and the migrating herbivores that they hunted. Images of these same animals – Eland, Wildebeest, Hippo and Rhino – they carved into the rock with extraordinary delicacy.

I can recognise parallels in the San trance dances to many of my activities as an artists that involve repetitive tasks, such as hand-written text works and the weaving of maps and structures. The small corbelled stone buildings I make are created in a kind of concentrated dance; days of lifting rock while assessing shape, size, line, etc. Then there are the land drawings: four years ago I worked on the Paiute Indian Reservation at Pyramid Lake in the Nevada desert making a vast raked whirlwind drawing out on the playa of a dried-up ancient lake bed. Two of us made this drawing over 18 hours, mostly by moonlight as the blinding reflected heat was too hot during the day. The process was: etch the arc of the line with a stick attached to a radial string, then whack to break the surface and drag, whack and drag. Imagine doing this by the surreal light of a full moon – it is a trance dance. By 10.00 am the following morning we were done. We returned at sunset to take the photos from a high point, by which time huge black clouds were gathering and the rain started to fall as we packed up the cameras. By the following day the drawing had gone. The Nevada Museum of Art, which commissioned the work, returned a month later with a team to re-rake it, and exactly the same thing happened: it rained.


This is a desert where rainfall is very scarce. I make no claims for this beyond coincidence, nor am I after an altered state, but when thinking is born of an embodied experience, then somehow the boundaries between microcosm and macrocosm, inside and outside, disappear. The Paiute, like the San lived in small nomadic bands, and during the summer months they moved from one local rainfall to another, hunting the deer and rabbits which grazed the rejuvenated grasses. The Vredefort impact crater is a place of destruction, but in the same way, the San turned it into a place of creation, of life and regeneration.

The history of the Earth, laid down in the fossil bands visible in the Cradle of Humankind is one of continual destruction and creation; waves of life and waves of destruction. What interests me is that this is also where our human origins began. During my time at Nirox I spent a day with Professor Lee Berger, a palaeontologist at the University of Johannesburg. Three years ago Lee made a life-changing find just a mile from Nirox. By searching on Google Earth he was able to pin point several caves that had never been looked at. Close to the surface of one of these he found two complete hominid fossil skeletons: a young child and its mother. Almost everything about these skeletons is human: the pelvis, the upright stance, the hands and feet. Only the longer arms and the small craniums are closer to Australopithecus. I saw these ancient bones laid out in boxes and they are remarkable. It appears to everyone that this is pretty close to the missing link that palaeontologists have been searching for and they are two million years old. They know this because there are three strata layers in the rock where the radioactive isotopes have reversed. This means that during each of these time frames, revealed in the fossil layers, there was a polar reversal, which is a catastrophic event that happens at intervals in the Earth’s history and could well happen again. The two hominid skeletons were found amongst bones of other animals including a sabre-toothed tiger and were just above the earlier of the three pole reversals, which is how they could be dated. The speculation is that this event caused an extreme drought and all species were looking for water down the caves, where they fell in and perished.

So a picture is emerging of waves of time, destruction and creation. In my daily walks through the Cradle I collected rocks, fossils, bones, feathers, porcupine quills and plants. I peered into caves, watched the game and jackals and listened to the lions roaring at night. I became particularly interested in the concentric patterns of various plants, tortoise shells and stromatolite fossils. Stromatolites are fossilised layers of cyanobacteria algae, which formed here around two billion years ago. These primitive life forms were the first organisms to convert CO2 into oxygen, eventually giving the planet its atmosphere and creating the conditions for life on Earth and the biodiversity we know today. Cyanobacteria organisms still exist in our soils today. On the Nevada Nuclear Test Site similar cyanobacterial organisms survived the blasts of 100 atmospheric nuclear tests. This is where things come full circle, as stromatolites were virtually the only living organisms on the planet at the time of the asteroid impact two billion years ago. Many of them will have survived and been the seed of regeneration for new life after the event.


So my challenge is how to represent these ideas visually on the land at Nirox; how to create in the viewer an experience which embodies these ideas and allows for further connections to be made.

My instincts are the following:

  • · That the work should have both an inside and an outside aspect
  • · That the experience within should be cave-like
  • · That it should in some way reveal layers of time
  • · That it should place the work in real time, within the cycles of planetary time
  • · That the form and the material should echo the forms found within and around the Cradle

My intention is to strip away and reveal an area of dolomite rock, and to build within this area a small domed chamber in red sandstone in the shape of a stromatolite. The interior of the chamber would be plastered white and painted with bands of red ochre in patterns which echo layers of fossil time, stromatolite and tortoise shell concentric rings, and impact shatter patterns.

The chamber will also act as a camera obscura by cutting out the light and using just a small aperture in the apex of the ceiling. Images of trees, branches, clouds and the sun would be projected over the murals onto the walls and floor. Furthermore an analemma (figure 8) would be traced out in steel pins set into the plaster. The Earth moves around the Sun in an ellipse, so at the same time every day, over the course of a year the sun traces out a figure 8 pattern. At the intersection is the equinox, at the top – the winter solstice and at the bottom – the summer solstice. By entering the chamber at midday the image of the sun would be somewhere on this analemma and the time of year would be revealed.

My proposal therefore is for a permanent site-specific work on the land at Nirox, which brings together, time, geology and man’s presence in this unique environment. The work will be both an object and an experience connecting the viewer back to the ancient roots of the Cradle of Humankind.


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Carbon Sink

The Nevada Museum of Art has an article by Michaela Rife on their Facebook site:

Chris Drury’s Carbon Sink: A Marker of Western Realities

by Center for Art + Environment on Tuesday, March 20, 2012 at 9:58pm ·

by Michaela Rife


Chris Drury, “Carbon Sink: What Goes Around Comes Around”, 2011. University of Wyoming, Laramie, Wyoming. Photo author’s own.


Visit the official Wyoming state tourism website and you will be greeted with promises of “untouched” beauty. Nature is a crucial part of the state’s public image, packed within the “Forever West” campaign that greets visitors on billboards, websites and television advertisements. The message could hardly be any clearer: Wyoming’s greatest cultural resource is its land, wide open spaces and natural wonders. And lest you feel the need to hurry, don’t, the west is forever, limitless, like its sightlines. Yet drive any of the state’s roads and in addition to uninterrupted western views, you will find numerous oil derricks, energy plants and windmill farms looming large on the horizon. Of course none of these visions fit into the tidy packaging of “Wyoming: Forever West,” and despite the attempt to sell Wyoming as the land of inexhaustible natural wonders, it is virtually impossible to live in the state without acknowledging the financial debt owed to the energy industry, and members of the industry are quick to remind the public of the role their money plays at the University of Wyoming in Laramie.


In this environment the University of Wyoming Art Museum director Susan Moldenhauer has undertaken a program of public sculpture, Sculpture: A Wyoming Invitational, which stretches across Laramie. On July 23, 2011 I drove to Laramie to see the most recent addition, British artist Chris Drury’s installation Carbon Sink: What Goes Around Comes Around. With Drury’s commission the University received a new level of publicity, with coverage in both the New York Times and the London Guardian. The discussion was not an examination of the merits of the sculpture or its place in a larger program of public art, however, but reportage of the controversy surrounding what Jim Robbins described as a “coal-themed sculpture.”(i) Both the New York Times and the Guardian picked up on the Casper Star-Tribune’s article entitled “University of Wyoming sculpture blasts fossil fuels,” in which Jeremy Pelzer elicits comments from Wyoming Mining Association executive director Marion Loomis, who seemed to take Drury’s work as both a personal attack and an attack on the energy industry, suggesting the installation of a sculpture honoring coal. As the story gained traction Wyoming representative  Tom Lubnau used the Gillette News-Record to casually threaten the University saying that the occasion afforded him an opportunity to “educate some of the folks at the University of Wyoming about where their paychecks come from.”  (ii) Despite the controversy, Moldenhauer and Drury held firm to the position that Carbon Sink is not a didactic piece, not a targeted attack on big coal. Still, Carbon Sink has neither been examined as an important part of Drury’s oeuvre nor as a nuanced consideration of the reality of the contemporary American West.


Early in his career, Drury accompanied British artist Hamish Fulton on a 1975 walk in the Canadian Rockies. Drury cites this mountain walk as an integral point in his artistic development, noting the impulse to make site interventions as both shelter and marker. Broadly, he describes his work in terms of microcosm/macrocosm, of working around the globe but ever conscious of patterns (such as the vortex) that appear in the smallest fragments of cells. His practice has taken him from Antarctica to Sussex and, in 2008, the CHRIS DRURY: MUSHROOMS | CLOUDS saw the artist install works both within the museum walls and in site specific locations outside, weaving together a consideration of regeneration and the state’s history of nuclear testing, while allowing for views of the expansive western sky through a rooftop cloud chamber. Looking back from the perspective of Carbon Sink, MUSHROOMS | CLOUDS reveals Drury to be an artist un-swayed by the romance of the West, sensitive to its often difficult realities.


When commissioned to create a piece for Sculpture: A Wyoming Invitational, Drury traveled to Laramie to explore concepts. During a conversation with Jeffrey Lockwood, Professor of Natural Sciences and Humanities at the University of Wyoming, Drury became aware of the spate of dead trees in the Rocky Mountain region. The culprit is the pine beetle, an insect native to the region but typically killed by freezing winters. As Western winters have warmed, the beetles have thrived. Lockwood observes that while people notice this change, no one has connected Wyoming’s financial success, gained primarily through the energy industry, to these beetle-killed trees. This relationship, of livelihoods and energy with earth and insects coalesced perfectly with Drury’s interest in life and death cycles (as in the mushroom at Nevada) and the vortex form he had been exploring, as a naturally occurring pattern. So when Drury returned to Laramie in July, the campus was treated to a new sculpture, one that consisted of a vortex of charred, beetle-killed pine logs and Wyoming coal, swirling into a hole dug into the ground. Drury had previously worked with both wood and coal, and was fascinated by their intertwined fates. As a resident of the first industrialized country, Drury is particularly fascinated by coal and had previously used it to construct a chamber in the crypt of St. James Church, Piccadilly, London. In that case, the coal not only acted as a shelter for the human body, but was itself sheltered by the architecture of the capital city. In the case of Carbon Sink, the Wyoming coal is exposed not just to the eyes of passing pedestrians, but to the elements. And rather than offering the idea of shelter, Drury conceptualized the form to pull people down into the sink, which it demonstrably does. Perhaps it is the fact that coal is extracted from beneath the ground, hidden away for most of its life, which allows us to consume it so voraciously. In Wyoming, the visual impact of its extraction is relegated to mining sites; however, the pine trees that stretch across the Rocky Mountain region are not only highly visible, but an integral part of the natural beauty that Wyoming is so eager to promote. Carbon Sink connects the cycle of tree to coal, and joins what happens below ground to the landscape captured in family vacation photographs and postcards.


Chris Drury, “Carbon Sink: What Goes Around Comes Around” (detail), 2011. University of Wyoming, Laramie, Wyoming. Photo author’s own.


As I drove to Laramie to see Carbon Sink, I became acutely aware of the seas of green and red, alive and dead trees stretching into the distance. The wide open views of Wyoming are not restricted to the picturesque; they often allow for unpleasant jolts of reality. As we discussed wind farms as renewable energy source, Drury wryly observed the problem that people don’t want to see windmills ruining the uninterrupted western vistas, a problem that has also plagued the erection of windmills in Britain. Unfortunately, a towering metal windmill turning in the wind does not fit the “Forever West” slogan. The same Western space that can make the heart sing can lead to the delusion that one is alone in the world, that gutting a state for its resources will not affect both the microcosm and macrocosm.


Despite the controversy generated by his installation, Drury retains a nuanced view of the issue. As an artist who flies around the globe, he acknowledges his own carbon footprint but refuses to ignore environmental issues. Though he chooses not to call himself an overtly political artist, Drury is adamant that land is, and will always be, political. Yet, the link between land and people is also intensely emotional, a complicated relationship that is particularly evident in Wyoming. The American West is home to many canonical works of land art, but they are predominantly sited in remote areas. Carbon Sink festers like a sore in the skin of the University, tugging people to it. As we discussed the controversy, Drury remarked that if the work were “to just sit there and get accepted, maybe it is not doing its job.”(iii)  At the time it was doing anything but sitting there. I expressed my own hope that it could draw not just environmental attention to Wyoming but the eye of the art world. Prophetically, Drury predicted that in the face of big energy the controversy would die out. Yet although media attention surrounding Carbon Sink has subsided, its prominent location on Wyoming’s only four-year university campus ensures that it will linger in the state’s visual memory. As Drury hopes that his pieces create discussion, I hope that Carbon Sink will serve as a marker for memory in the minds of Wyoming’s students, those headed for careers in policy and energy, the future leaders who will someday be faced with reconciling Wyoming’s conflicting positions as land of natural beauty and the nation’s energy colony.



i) Jim Robbins, “Coal-Themed Sculpture Annoys Lawmakers”, New York Times “Green Blog”, July 21, 2011. <http:></http:>

ii) Representative Lubnau quoted in: Laura Hancock, “Criticism of ‘Carbon Sink’ art at UW generates heat,” Gillette News-Record, July 17, 2011.

iii) Chris Drury, Interview with the author. Laramie, Wyoming. July 23, 2011.


PLEASE NOTE: Photos of Chris Drury’s Carbon Sink are the author’s own.



Michaela Rife is an arts writer based in Cheyenne, Wyoming. She holds an MA in Art History from the Courtauld Institute of Art and will begin the University of British Columbia’s program in Curatorial Studies in fall 2012.

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Destroying Angel Nevada

March 19, 2012

The work is made from two related species of desert plant, Lycium pallidum and Lycium andersonii, which grow on The Nevada Nuclear Test site, and which were collected for me by Dr Lynn Fenstermaker. Over 2000 pieces of this thorny plant are suspended on nylon thread within a Perspex box.


70 x 70 x 216 cm.

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Welcome to my new website

March 14, 2012

I shall be updating the site at regular intervals and will be archiving my old blog on:  while continuing that blog  on this site.

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Drawing on Ideas

February 10, 2012

Royal British Society of Sculptors With William Mackerell and Simon Linington

This was an open submission show which featured two sets of work based on an idea. I showed Destroying Angel Trinity and Destroying Angel Nevada.


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On the Ground, above and below Wyoming

February 02, 2012

Topographical and geological maps, cut into strips and woven together with a border of Wyoming earth and coal dust.

102 x 126 cm  – collection artist

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Land Water and Language

September 05, 2011

Taigh Chearsabghagh Museum and Arts Centre, North Uist, Western Isles – 4th September – 30th October 2010
Sabhal Mor Ostaig, Sleat, Isle of Skye – 27th November 2010 – 5th March 2011
Dovecot, Edinburgh – 5th August  – 5th September 2011

Funded By Taigh Chearsabhagh and Creative Scotland, curated by Andy Mackinnon

The project began in September 2009 when Andy Mackinnon (TC’s curator and filmmaker) and myself made a two day journey by Canadian canoe across the island, from the west coast back to Lochmaddy on the east coast, threading our way through the maze of lochs and waterways. The result is this extensive show which includes the installation of a suspended woven canoe, made from heather, willow and salmon skins, works on the wall using digital technology and place names, with maps and satellite imagery; works with peat and water; a photogravure of the land traversed by canoe; and a video of a breaking wave.

The Uists and Benbecula are part of a flow country whose interweaving of sea, lochs and land takes on a wave pattern, as when the tide retreats from a beach. The chain of islands and sea are dominated by Eaval (Island Mountain) in the North and Hekla in the South, both Norse names transfixing a fluid landscape with history and language. For the experience of this land is multi layered: from the actuality of the place; the wind, the rain, the light, the sound of the curlew, the roar of the surf, the brown squelch of the peat bogs and the scent of the burning peat from the cottage chimneys, intermingles with the history interred in the place names on the map, given both in Gaelic and Norse: Encounter Loch, Secure Sheep Island, Hillock of Many Priests, Loch of the Old Woman and something of the pain from the clearances: Isle of Lament, Coffin Loch.

So language and meaning and history are embedded in this now sparsely populated place. And using satellite imagery we can look at this pattern of land and water observe the ever changing patterns of weather fronts which mirror the land beneath. At the same time we can look at the microcosm in the small bacteria embedded in the peat bogs and know through the science that these microorganisms are affecting the climate and the weather in which the whole is embedded.

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Carbon Sink

July 23, 2011

University of Wyoming campus, Laramie, USA

Commissioned as part of the University of Wyoming Art Museum sculpture program.

The piece is 14 m. in diameter and is made from beetle killed pine logs and coal. Both these materials were once living trees and died during times of climate warming. At this time the burning of fossils fuels is giving rise to warmer winters in the Rockies, as a result the pine beetle  survive the winters and the forests in the Rockies are dying from New Mexico to British Columbia – a catastrophic event. Wyoming is rich in both coal and oil, which are shipped out of the States 365 days of the year to be burned elsewhere. Everyone in the State benefits from the taxes levied on the coal and oil companies, including the University of Wyoming. At the same time Children born now will never know what a wild Mountain Forest looks like, and there will be fires and erosion in the mountains which will effect all living things.

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Destroying Angel Nevada

March 02, 2011

The work is made from two related species of desert plant, Lycium pallidum and Lycium andersonii, which grow on The Nevada Nuclear Test site, and which were collected for me by Dr Lynn Fenstermaker. Over 2000 pieces of this thorny plant are suspended on nylon thread within a Perspex box.

70 x 70 x 216 cm.  –  collection artist

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Waves and Time

January 23, 2011


Thixendale, Wolds Way, Yorkshire, UK. Commissioned as part of Wander – Art on the Yorkshire Wolds Way.

Wander was initiated by Visit Hull and East Yorkshire (VHEY) and is a partnership project managed with the local authorities (East Riding of Yorkshire Council and North Yorkshire County Council) along the Wolds Way and Natural England.  It is funded with grants from the Arts Council of England and the LEADER European Rural Development Fund.

The work draws the lines of flow of the glaciers which once covered the valley. It is made from low mounded earth and troughs, seeded so that it blends with the surrounding grass. At one end is a restored dew pond. The work covers several acres.

March 2018 – photo Peter Heaton

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January 01, 2011

Pori Museum of Art, Pori Finland

Curated by John Grande and Pia Hovi-Assad.

This was a survey exhibition with historical work (Smithson, Christo etc) with more contemporary artists around the theme of ecology.

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Life in the Field of Death 3, The Methane Eater

July 15, 2010

The Methane Eater – Life in the Field of Death – Methylocapsa acidiphila
Methylocapsa acidiphila is a microrganism living in the acid conditions of peat bogs and burning methane for energy. Methane is a lethal greenhouse gas, so this organism helps to regulate the presence of this gas. The work is part of an ongoing series of gene sequence works about life forms living in places which are hostile to life. –  peat on paper – 126 x 100 cm

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Mushroom Cloud

July 05, 2010

An installation in The Malga Costa barn, Arte Sella, in the Sella Valley, Borgo Valsugana, Italy, Funded by Arte Sella. A mushroom cloud of over 6000 pieces of dried fungi slices, sealed in acrylic and suspended between a steel frame and the floor on nylon thread – lit from beneath.

Digital print in an edition of 10. – 86 x 64 cm

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Looking South From Eaval

May 05, 2010

An image made up of all the names of lochs and hills visible from this point on Eaval, North Uist. Printed onto archival artists paper in 6 point.

107 x 148 cm. – edition of 3  –  £8000

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Roussillon 11 & 111

May 02, 2010

Rousillon 1   –  Ochre on card inset with woven maps of Rousillon area. –  91 x 90 x 8 cm.

Roussillon 2    Ochre and map on card   –                                                           91 x 90 x 4 cm.

Rousillon 111   –  Ochre on card inset with woven maps of Rousillon area. –   91 x 90 x 8 cm.

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Rhone Camargue

Found snake skin from the Camargue, on Rhone mud, on paper.  – 191 x 55 x 8 cm – collection artist

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Looking North from Eaval

April 05, 2010

a work in 5 parts, the total image is the same as land and Water, but it is made up of all the names of all the lochs and hills visible from this same point, printed onto archival artists paper in 6 point. The work is in 5 parts; Sections 1,3 and 5 are in Gaelic/Norse, sections 2 and 4 are in English. printed on archival paper and framed in perspex boxes.

Overal – 356 x 109 cm – Edition of 3

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Arte Sella, Mushroom Cloud

April 01, 2010

An installation in The Malga Costa barn, Arte Sella, in the Sella Valley, Borgo Valsugana, Italy. Funded by Arte Sella.

A mushroom cloud of over 6000 pieces of dried fungi slices, sealed in acrylic and suspended between a steel frame and the floor on nylon thread – lit from beneath.  230 x 500 cm

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Salmon Paddle

March 18, 2010

Canoe paddle wrapped in salmon skins. 135 x 15 x 3.5 cm

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Land and Water

March 02, 2010

A photogravure in 5 parts from a view looking north from Eaval on North Uist, prior to canoeing across this flow country over the following two days. – Each 45 x 61 cm, 225 x 61 cm overall – Edition of 7

various collections – 5 available

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Land Water Vessel

This is a 14’ long open woven canoe made on site at Taigh Chearsabhagh Arts Centre, North Uist, from willow, hazel, heather and salmon skins which are wrapped around the gunwales, struts, keel and paddle. The work was part of a one person show called Land Water and Language, made after the experience of a two day canoe journey across North Uist with Andy Mackinnon in 2009.

430 x 90 x 48 cm  – collection Taigh Cheasabhagh,


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Cloud 9

1760 small mushrooms suspended on nylon thread in a Perspex box. – 30 x 30 x 90 cm – collection artist

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Boletus Circle

February 04, 2010

Boletus Circle  Mud screen print on artists’ paper –  100 x 120 cm. – ed. 3/6 –

Howling at the Universe, a homage to Kurt Schwitters, screen printed porridge on Black paper –

100 x 120 cm –  ed. 6 /6  –



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Rhine Mosel Slate Whirlpool

January 23, 2010

Koblenz, Germany. Curated by The Heike Strellow Gallery in Frankfurt and commissioned by the Koblenz Garden Festival, it is hoped this work will remain permanently. It is sited in the grounds of the Fortress which overlook the confluence of the Rhine and the Mosel. The cliff itself is made of slate which underlies most of the region, giving the wines a distinctive taste. The material used was refuse from s slate making factory. 14 m. in diameter.

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Sky Mountain Chamber

January 01, 2010

Arte Sella, Sella Valley, Borgo Valsugana, Italy ( +39 461 751251)

Made as a permanent installation for Arte Sella in the Trento region of Italy, this work is built from 150 tons of limestone and sits within a group of pine trees in the beautiful high Sella valley.

The work pays homage in its shape to the dolomites, which are visible to the North West of the site, and to the limestone mountain wall which dominates the valley. By means of a small aperture in the southern side, the image of this mountain is projected upside down onto the floor and curved wall of the rectangular interior. 5 m. high x 4.5 m. diam.


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Breath / Anail

March 14, 2009

Made in collaboration with Andy Mackinnon at Taigh Chearsabhagh in North Uist, this is a looped video of a continually breaking wave, with the words BREATH and ANAIL (Gaelic for breath), fading in and out of the wave on a 1 minute 40 second cycle. Silent, HD Video. Edition of 50.

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September 23rd 2009

March 02, 2009

This work came out of a two day canoe journey with Andy Mackinnon across North Uist. It comprises a satellite image for that day over part of the Northern Hemisphere with the line of the lochs and the canoe journey superimposed.

Digital print laminated on dibond.  120 x 120 cm. – collection artist

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Mushrooms | Clouds

August 01, 2008

CHRIS DRURY   Mushrooms | Clouds – Nevada Museum of Art, Reno

 A one person show about use and abuse of land in Nevada with an over reaching theme of life, death and regeneration. Funded by Nevada Museum of Art and the For-Site Foundation.

The work was a result of several collaborations:

  1. With the Staff and Curators at the Museum who made sure every crazy idea I had was realised.
  2. With the For-Site Foundation on their land near Nevada city where a link was made to sustainable ways of living as evidenced by Maidu acorn grinding rocks, and compared to the devastation caused by gold mining in the area. Reference was also made in The Sierra Cloud Chamber to the importance of the rain shadow effect and snow melt run-off, of these mountains on the fragile deserts of Nevada.
  3. With The Paiute tribe on the Pyramid lake reservation resulting in Winnemucca Whirlwind.
  4. With the Desert Research Institute in Reno and Las Vegas, in particular with Dr Lynn Fenstermaker, a soil biologist working on the Nevada Nuclear Test Site who inspired the Life in the Field of Death works.

A book by Ann M Wolfe, published by the Centre for American Places at Columbia University, Chicago in collaboration with The Nevada Museum of Art, was made to accompany this exhibition.

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Shake Before Using

June 01, 2008

Installation view of Of Earth and Blood – fingerprints made with hand prints in two colors of local earth.

Museum Artiumof Álava, Vitoria-Gasteiz, Spain.

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Maidu Clouds

May 16, 2008

A video installation including two projections into a room corner, one of the sky reflected in a Maidu Grinding rock over the course of a day, and the other the Sky reflected in the boulder pool within the log chamber made the show Mushrooms|clouds at the ForSite Foundation land, Nevada City, California. Under the projections is a pool of water with reflections.  edition of 4. One owned by the Nevada Museum of Art. 24 mins. looped with sound. edited with Alice Ross.

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Winnemucca Whirlwind

May 05, 2008

Made for The Exhibition Mushrooms | Clouds at the Nevada Museum of Art in 2008

The work, based on a native basket design, was raked by hand over 18 hours, mostly by moonlight, on the dried out lake bed of  Lake Winnemucca and although it was placed the far side of the fence on Government land, it was only visible from a high point on the Paiute Indian Reservation. The drawing metaphorically reclaimed the land for the Paiute Nation since all of the land was once their hunting grounds. In the 1800’s Winnemucca was a shallow lake, rich in fish and wildfowl, but in the early 1900’s the government diverted part of the Truckee river, which flows into Pyramid and Winnemucca lakes, for irrigation of farming lands. This ecologically insane idea resulted in Pyramid Lake dropping 80’ and Winnemucca drying out. The devastation this caused to vital Paiute fisheries is still felt today and the Paiute Nation continue to fight for their water and fishery rights through the courts. What happened to the Paiute since the 1850’s  has been described in a book by Ferol Egan entitled Sand in the Whirlwind.

Digital print – 130 x 58 cm. – Ed. 1/6

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Life in the Field of Death 1

Made in Collaboration with Dr Lynn Fenstermaker, the work shows a microscope image of Microcoleus vaginata which is growing in the soils of the Nevada Nuclear Test site where 100 atmospheric bombs were tested. Next to it is an image from space of the that same test site. Microcoleus vaginata is a cyanobacteria, which were the first organisms to convert CO2 into Oxygen, paving the way for life on the planet.

Inkjet print, ed 3/6  410 x 610 mm.

Collection Nevada Museum of Art and Desert Research Institute, Reno

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Shattered Peace, Broken Promises

March 14, 2008

A column of smoke from a burning sage bundle, subjected to the sound of an explosion. HD looped video in sequences of  10 minutes. Silent. edited with Alice Ross.

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The Way of White Clouds

March 07, 2008

A looped video of a white cloudy liquid entering into still black water. HD video in a looped sequences of one minute 20 seconds. Silent. Edition of 6. Edited with Alice Ross


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Dust to Dust Ashes to Ashes

March 02, 2008

A Mural installation in dust from museum extraction ducts and wood ash – Dimension vary from wall to wall.


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Life in the Field of Death


Life in the Field of Death 1  2008

Inkjet print, ed 3/6  410 x 610 mm. Collection Nevada Museum of Art and Desert Research Institute, Reno


Life in the Field of Death 11     

Stenciled Nevada test site soils on the wall or on paper. Dimensions variable. Collection Nevada Museum of Art


559 Shelter Stones  2008

559 rocks from the desert made into a primitive fallout shelter. 1 m. high x 2.4 m diam. and spreading

Life in the Field of Death

All three works from this series, framed and hung together








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Winnemucca Whirlwind

January 30, 2008

Made for The Exhibition Mushrooms | Clouds at the Nevada Museum of Art in 2008

The work, based on a native basket design, was raked by hand over 18 hours, mostly by moonlight, on the dried out lake bed of  Lake Winnemucca and although it was placed the far side of the fence on Government land, it was only visible from a high point on the Paiute Indian Reservation. The drawing metaphorically reclaimed the land for the Paiute Nation since all of the land was once their hunting grounds. In the 1800’s Winnemucca was a shallow lake, rich in fish and wildfowl, but in the early 1900’s the government diverted part of the Truckee river, which flows into Pyramid and Winnemucca lakes, for irrigation of farming lands. This ecologically insane idea resulted in Pyramid Lake dropping 80’ and Winnemucca drying out. The devastation this caused to vital Paiute fisheries is still felt today and the Paiute Nation continue to fight for their water and fishery rights through the courts. What happened to the Paiute since the 1850’s has been described in a book by Ferol Egan entitled Sand in the Whirlwind.

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January 23, 2008

On my way to Antarctica on the James Clark Ross, albatrosses were wheeling about the ship. I asked the Met Officer on board, also bound for the base at Rothera, if he could give me a wind and pressure chart, pus a satellite image for each day I spent South. The idea for these pieces came from that information, together with the map of the flight of a tagged albatross, which was given to me by a biologist at the British Antarctic Survey in Cambridge.

private collections – a print is available (see prints)

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Equinox Line

A site-specific private commission in Neddernhof, nr Hamburg, Germany

The work comprises a mound with a stone lined site line through it, running East west, with marker standing stones either end aligned to the sunrise and sunset on the equinoxes.

In 2007 Hans Edmund Siemers asked me to return to Neddernhof to make another proposal for the park. He indicated that he was interested in the area around the most Easterly lake, which he had recently excavated from its original rectangular tank-like shape to something more organic. Every time I come to Neddernhof it is either in the spring or autumn and my visit on this occasion was in the autumn. I noticed that the high ground close to this lake was very beautiful and was clad in tall pines. It has a site line running East West towards the house connecting through to the Eastern entrance. The site line was partially obscured by the trees. East West is where the sun rises and sets at the equinoxes. Hans Edmund was born around the spring equinox, so I felt there was a connection here.

In this area of Germany and in neighbouring Denmark there are many historic long barrows and chambered tombs made with glacial boulders. I had a hunch that an oval mound, cut in two by an East West path and sited along the East West axis by two big standing stones would draw the walker towards the house and lakes and at the same time mark the Equinoxes and Hans’ birthday. I suggested to Hans that we might need to cut down a few trees to achieve the site line. He enthusiastically agreed and said that he had long wanted to do this to let more light into the area so that it would revert to heath vegetation and increase the biodiversity. When I returned the following year to make the work, I was quite shocked that he had taken down a whole swathe of trees. But in fact his hunch was right and all sorts of heath-land plants have established themselves and the place has the feeling of great lightness.

My initial idea was to have quite a high mound with a 2 m. stone lined cut through it, but that height was thought to be too dangerous for children and we reduced it by half. Six years on it is amazing to see how this piece has become integrated into the landscape, how it is much used by the local community and how even horse riders gallop through the gap.


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Moving Towards A Balanced Earth

January 01, 2008

Museum of New Zealand Te Papa, Tongarewa, Wellington

Installation view of Spore Waves a projection of a mushroom spore print onto the surface of a mirror pool. The pool has an electrical pulse going through it, which distorts and creates waves in the reflected image on the wall.


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Albatross Print

August 04, 2007

Albatross print

Digital print on archival rag paper, with a hand drawn blue crayon line.

The image is of one day of wind over Antarctica, with the line of the flight of a tagged Albatross over 18 months, drawn in blue crayon around the central circle.  This bird lives on the wing, often just 2 metres above the waves of the southern oceans. The line of its flight circumnavigates the globe in a clockwise direction, which is also the direction of the winds and the circumpolar current. Where the cold waters of Antarctica meet the warmer currents – this is where all the krill is in the seas, and so this is where most of the life is, from fish to birds to mammals. The circumpolar current is also driving the climate of the planet.

74.5 x 74.5 cm – In an edition of 9/50, unframed, signed, numbered and posted rolled – £2300


Unframed £2,500 (including UK postage)
Unframed £2,530 (including rest of Europe postage)
Unframed £2,550 (including USA and rest of world postage)


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Wind Vortices

July 04, 2007


Wind Vortices – Sky Blu, Antarctica  – Inkjet print  – 717 x 1506 mm – edition 2/4

Wind Vortex – Sky Blu, Antarctica – Inkjet print  – 975 x 716 mm – edition 4/4 sold out

Wind Vortices Drawing – embossed artists paper – 760 x 670 mm. edition 3/4

Sky Blu is an oil depot for refuelling planes taking scientists deeper into Antarctica. The site for the depot was
chosen because prevailing winds, which are forced into vortices by the nearby Nunatacs (the tips of mountains
protruding from the ice sheets), scour the ice of snow, creating a blue ice surface all year. Because of this the
large Dash 7 aircraft can land on the ice, on wheels, with a cargo of 20 oil drums.

My intention was to make a very large drawing of the wind, using a skidoo on fresh snow. The drawing was made
on a map, then re-plotted in a computer and transferred to a GPS. The GPS was taped to the handlebars of the
skidoo, and once the satellites had picked up my position, all I had to do was keep the arrow on the line of the
drawing on the screen, and follow it through to the end.

To make all this happen I needed a set of unlikely conditions: a fresh fall of snow, followed by a clear sunny day
with no wind and no planes landing, as the skidoos would not then be available. Because Princes Anne was visiting
the main Base, all flights were cancelled. There was a big blizzard with lots of snow followed by a day of fine
weather, so I grabbed a skidoo, the GPS, a radio and cameras and I was in business. The line of the drawing is
about 3 km long, and I had to make the big spiral smaller as I found myself getting rather close to a crevassed
area. Afterwards I parked the skidoo and climbed the side of the Nunatac to take the photos. By the following day
the drawing had gone with the wind.

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Echoes of the Heart

June 30, 2007

ACAD extension Courtyard, Central Middlesex Hospital. Commissioned by the the North West London Hospital trust, and funded by Arts Council England, Arts & Business, Capsticks and the Central Middlesex Cardiac unit.

The idea is based around flow patterns in the heart and images from an echocardiogram in both hard landscaping (slate pieces laid on edge) and planted grasses. When the slate gets wet images of the echocardiogram appear in a green slate.

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Life in the Presence of Death

March 02, 2007

Antarctic earth on paper, 1310 x 1000 mm – private collection and collection artist

This is the gene sequence of a proteobacteria found in the soil of the Ellsworth Mountains, one of the most lifeless places on earth.


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Under Sky Blu

March 01, 2007

 Layered echograms from Flight G23, Inkjet print, 888 x 778 mm. edition 2/4, private collection and collection artist

 This work is made by taking what is a linear cross section of an echogram over Sky Blu and layering them one over the other in Photoshop. The image is never anything you would see, it is more an image from sound. Like a layered score.


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Under The Ice, over the Unknown


Detail from Flight G23, Pencil and ink on an inkjet print on artists’ paper, 2060 x 870 mm – private collection


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Lake Concordia and Ice Wave

From Flight W34, Biro on an inkjet print on vinyl, 1306 x 1137 mm – Collection artist

Lake Concordia 11 – 2018 – GelPoint on print on rag paper 1306 x 1137 mm –

the ice here is 4 K thick, but where it meets the land which in places is hot, it forms lakesI

Ice, River, Echo, Wave – 2018 – gel point on print on Hannemuhl rag paper – 1306 x 1137 mm.

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Explorers at the Edge of the Void

Hand written text in ink on an inkjet print from an echogram of East Antarctica, on artists’ paper, 1060 x 2345 mm

private collection

Not long after I returned from Antarctica my wife and I were invited to CERN to see the new Hadron Collider under construction. The experiment, which is due to take place in 2008, will attempt to prove the Theory of Everything, which will mimic the Big Bang, and give us an insight into the origins of the Universe. It will also bring to a conclusion nearly a century of research into the nature and origins of matter, the strange Zen-like world of particle physics, which puts man and his thinking as a part of the equation, rather than outside of it. This is something which has always intrigued me and it struck me that this century of research into the smallest and largest Universes went hand in hand with the exploration of the last uncharted place on Earth: Antarctica. Einstein, Plank, Scott and Shackleton were all contemporary explorers. They were all looking at absolute matter and absolute mind. Nature was, in all senses, a blank white canvass of exploration. It is ironic that instead of seeing the truth of what it means to be a part of nature, society has continued to dominate it, often using science, and the result is the devastating climate change we see today and which is so evident in the melting glaciers of the Antarctic Peninsular.

This work reads from the bottom up, starting with a mix of Antarctic explorers and Nobel Laureate physicists, splitting into two distinct groups, divided by ‘the Theory of Everything’ and ‘Everything Nothing’. It culminates in the Equations that go to make up the four forces of Nature that constitute the Theory of Everything: Quantum Chromodynamics, Lagrangian, Electromagnetic and Quantum Mechanics. If the CERN experiment works we will see the particle tracks of the Higgs Bosun theory; what Leon Lederman called ‘The God Particle’.

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Everything Nothing


Hand written text in ink on an inkjet print, from an echogram of East Antarctica, on artists’ paper, 888 x 778 mm

private collection

Antarctica is the height of nothingness and yet it contains everything, it drives our climate and has our history encoded in the layers of ice.

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Above and Below Cararra Nunatac

Sky Blu, Antarctica, Inkjet prints, one is a layered echogram from under the ice at Sky Blu.  888 x 733 mm

Collection artist

An echogram is a radar image of the ice and the underlying land formations. The equipment is attached to the underside of the wings of a Twin Otter, which will fly close to the surface of the ice on a plotted course for around 4 hours. The resulting image, captured in a computer, shows the formation and movement of ice, which is 4 km. deep and 900,000 years old. I have taken this 20 m. long drawing, put it into Photoshop and cut, pasted and layered the areas under Sky Blu.


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Antarctic Winds 1

24th & 25th January, Inkjet print on artists paper with pencil, 752 x 737 mm. – Collection artist

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Antarctic Winds 2

 27 & 28th January, Inkjet print on artists’ archival paper overlaid with permanent ink on transparent film,

752 x 737 mm – Collection artist

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Double Echo

From Flight W38, Inkjet print. 1340 x 1140 mm, edition of 4 – Collection artist and Central Middlesex Hospital

One of the scientists working on the echograms and with whom I spent some time out on the ice, showed me some of the echograms in his computer and he, knowing of my interest in echocardiograms said “these are like the heartbeat of the Earth”. This prompted me to bring the pilot who made these flights, down to Central Middlesex hospital where I was working, to have his heartbeat read. So this echogram from East Antarctica is superimposed with an echocardiogram of the heartbeat of that pilot. Both imaging techniques are very similar; one using radar and the other ultrasound

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Iceprint 1, 2, 3

January 05, 2007

 Iceprint I – Sky Blu, Antarctica, – Inkjet print  – 662 x 868 mm

Iceprint 2   – Sky Blu, Antarctica, – Inkjet prints  – 652 x 888

Iceprint 3  – Sky Blu, Antarctica, – Inkjet prints –   648 x 888 mm



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Sky Blu, Antarctica, Inkjet print,  919 x 678 mm, ed. ¼

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Cloud Igloo

January 04, 2007

Antarctica – Inkjet print  – 1970 x 1658 mm – edition 2/4

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Antarctica, – Inkjet print  –  920 x 900 mm  – edition 3/9

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Iceprint 1 Sky Blu, Antarctica, – Inkjet print –  662 x 868 mm – edition 2/4

Iceprint 2 Sky Blu, Antarctica, – inkjet print – 652 x 888 cm – edition 2/4

Iceprint 3, Sky Blu, Antarctica, – inkjet print – 648 x 888 cm – edition 1/4



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Brocken Spectre

Lanzarote Nunatac, Sky Blu, Antarctica, – Inkjet print  – 692 x 888 mm


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July 10, 2006

Commissioned by Brighton and Hove City Council Hove Park, The work is made of random York stone in lime mortar set into the turf and was made with Second Land.  The pattern is a Cretan labyrinth set into the central whorl of a fingerprint, so to walk it is a meditative journey to the interior.

30 x 42 m.

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24 Hour Mountain and 24 Hour Iceberg

March 14, 2006

24 Hour Mountain, Antarctica  2006

A mountain filmed from across the bay on Rothera Point at the British Antarctic Survey base, for 3 minutes every hour, for 24 hours on the longest day of 22nd December 2006. A looped HD video – 30 minutes

24 Hour Mountain, Iceberg  2006

An iceberg filmed in the bay from Rothera Point at the British Antarctic Survey base, for 3 minutes every hour, for 24 hours on the longest day of 22nd December 2006. A looped HD video – 30 minutes.

both edited with Alice Ross.

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Amanita phalloides

March 02, 2006

Amanita mushroom spore print on Artist black card with radiating lines of, hand written text in white ink.

collection artist

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Time and Strata

Gealogical and OS woven maps and earth pigment. Lewes – South Downs ,73 x 73 cm – two exist, woven in opposite ways – private collections


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Star Chamber

January 01, 2006

Dyer Observatory, Vanderbilt University, Nashville, Tennessee

The work is a collaboration with astronomers at the Dyer Observatory, connected to Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee. The idea was to try to demonstrate how the Earth moves around the sun in an ellipse. If you were to photograph the sun from the same spot, at the same time every day, over the course of a year it would draw a figure 8 in the sky – called an analemma. Where the figure 8 crosses marks the equinoxes while the apex of the top loop is the Summer Solstice and the Bottom is the Winter Solstice.

The Chamber therefore was built with 200 tons of limestone in the shape of a spiral galaxy, in the ceiling of the interior of the chamber is a simple aperture which projects the sky onto the floor and walls. 18″ in front of this is another calibrated aperture which allows a thin slice of the sky due south to be projected on to the floor and curved walls. If you enter the chamber at midday there will be two suns in the chamber, the lower one is marking the analemma which is traced out into the plaster in steel pins. From where the second sun is you can determine where the Earth is in its orbit of the sun and what time of year it is. This is also reinforced on the approach path to the work where there are 7 standing stones aligned to the rising and setting sun at the Solstices and equinoxes.

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July 10, 2005

Sainsbury Centre for The Visual Arts, University of East Anglia
Made for an exhibition called ‘Out There’ curated by The Sainsbury Centre for the Visual Arts, on the campus of The University of East Anglia.
The work was 45m in diameter made from mown grass in the pattern of a coiled basket whirlpool, with an inner more random whirlpool made from pine logs, charred black in the central plunging hole.

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Redwood Vortex

May 10, 2005

Villa Montalvo, Saratoga, California.   A temporary 70’ structure, woven in willow and Poplar around a Redwood Tree behind the gallery at the Villa and commissioned as part of the outdoor sculpture program. The work formed a part of an exhibition called Whorls with two related pieces inside in the Gallery (see exhibitions  – Whorls).



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March 14, 2005

A mushroom spore print on a glass slide, projected at night onto the surface of a small creek in Ohio, and bounced onto a stone wall lining the water. The image on the wall, with wave patterns flowing through it,  is filmed in low definition video. Looped video in 3 minute cycles. Edition of 6. Filmed with A.D. Peters, edited with Jude Aldred.

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Heart of Reeds

March 10, 2005

Lewes, East Sussex, UK   A work designed for a local Nature Reserve to increase the Biodiversity of the site. Made in collaboration with the Railway land Wildlife Trust and Lewes District Council. Funded by Viridor Plc, Arts Council South East and Harveys Brewery.

The design is taken from patterns of blood flow in the heart, namely a Cardiac Twist, which is a complex pattern allowing for more borderlands between land and water and so increasing the likelihood of more biodiversity. Water levels can be adjusted by sluice gates and to scour the build up of reed detritus, the design allows one half to be isolated from the other so it can be drained without loosing all the water species. Water flows constantly through it and out into the water meadows beyond where there is a pond dipping area for school studies. The work visible as a pattern from a viewing mound and from the adjacent Hill, and a board walk runs through the centre of it. It is about 2.5 acres in extent.

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January 01, 2005




Montalvo Arts Center, Saratoga, California

This was a project with a large woven work around a redwood tree outside, highlighting the flow of sap in trees and two installations in the gallery; one of the vortices in the body, as fingerprints from 25 local people in earth on the walls, and the other as vortices in the heart made in Redwood sticks and needles.

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Rivers of Stone and Fingerprint

September 10, 2004

Russell’s Hall Hospital, Dudley.  Both these works were commissioned by Dudley group of Hospitals trust, in collaboration with Dudley Council, Sir Robert Mc Alpine and West Midlands Arts Council.

The works are situated either side of a three story passageway within courtyards in the new PFI built extension. River of Stones fits into the existing landscaping and fills two 23m x 2m strips. The work is based around flow patterns in the heart taken from Sensitive Chaos and work done by Philip Kilner on the heart. It is constructed from thousands of fragments of slate laid on edge in cement, with six glacial boulders.

Fingerprint situated on a flat roof on a one story building within a courtyard, adjacent to Rivers of Stone, it is a fingerprint image from a nurse in A&E, made in two colors of aggregate: brown sandstone beach pebbles and white limestone. 10 tones of the brown aggregate was removed in strips and replaced with 10 tones of white limestone. The roof is the size of a large tennis court and is overlooked by a passageway and wards.

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Boletus Circle and Howling at The Universe

September 01, 2004

Boletus Circle –  2004   Mud screen print on artists paper, signed and numbered. 120 x 100cm. Ed. 2/6       £75000

Howling at the Universe, A homage to Kurt Schwitters          2009

Screen printed porridge on black paper. 120 x 100 cm. Ed. 2/6  –                                                                                  £75000


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Heaven and Earth 1

July 15, 2004

UV sealed inkjet print from a satellite photograph, superimposed with a map, plus a background of lava dust in acrylic emulsion, etched down to the aluminium, all mounted on 16 sheets of 2mm aluminium. 200 x 250 cm.  edition of 1 – unique

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Heaven and Earth

July 06, 2004

UV sealed inkjet print from a satellite photograph, superimposed with a map from a 6 day walk from Porsmork to Landmanlauger in July 2003. The background is made of lava dust in acrylic emulsion, etched down to the aluminium, all mounted on 16 sheets of 2mm aluminium. 200 x 250 cm

Collection artist



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Rivers of Stone

June 05, 2004

Inkjet print: 100 x 72 cm.  – ed. 1/6


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Volcanoes of Iceland

March 02, 2004

Hand written text in ink, listing the volcanic mountains of Iceland, on an inkjet print of a map from the Landmanalauger area, overprinted onto an ink cap spore print and peat impregnated paper, with Lava dust in acrylic emulsion.

140 x 98.5 cm. – Collection artist

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Crossing and Re-Crossing the Rivers of Iceland

January 12, 2004


Hand written text on peat and ink impregnated, canvas backed paper, listing all the rivers crossed on a walk from Porsmork to Landmanlauger in July 2003. The pattern is derived from a satellite photo of a weather system over the area. 74 x 185 cm.

The story behind the work is that my friend, who is a climber and in later life has developed a heart condition, came on this 6 day walk with me from Porsmork to Landmanalauger in central Iceland.  On the 4th day we were hit by a storm and waited out the night  in a hut. The following day, the storm was still raging but a four hour lull was predicted in the afternoon, so having a plane to catch we started off for the next hut at 3.00 pm.

We crossed a river (very cold) and climbed 2000’ to a snow covered plateau. On the top the storm came back in and we were enveloped in a whiteout. My friend who had got very cold and tired announced that he wasn’t going to make it to the hut. He was in fact having a heart attack – his heart was closing down. I didn’t know this, but gave him some water which he used to swallow some pills given him by his doctor for just such an emergency. They saved his life and he made it to the hut. The connection here is that blood flows in the heart in a double vortex pattern called a Cardiac Twist – the storm has that same pattern.

with Browngrotta Arts


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