People have tried to capture the beautiful yet mysterious way of nature through still images and recorded footage. But it would be best to witness how a natural phenomenon unfolds right before our very eyes.
Inspired by ever-changing biological forms and natural ecosystems, artist John Grade sculpts large-scale installations that explore the impermanence of nature. For his latest piece, titled Reservoir, Grade visualized the patterns of forest rainfall with a huge net structure suspended amongst the trees.
“I am probably most happy when out in the natural world so one of the primary things I aim to do with installations is drawing focus to aspects of what I love most about being in nature. So with Reservoir, I hoped to illuminate the subtle grandeur of the way rain filters down through the tree canopy.”
Situated in a clearing within an Italian forest, John Grade’s latest installation appears like a chandelier glistening among the pine trees. Reservoir is featured in the Arte Sella Sculpture Park in Borgo Valsugana and is made up of five thousand clear droplets each of which is delicately attached to translucent nets, supported by tree trunks.
“I came up with the idea for the project by spending long periods of time simply sitting and walking through the forest at Arte Sella sculpture park and thinking through exactly why it felt so good to be there. The quiet sounds of rainfall on the forest floor were my initial point of inspiration.
I was initially worried that birds might accidentally fly into the net structure and get caught and hurt. So we did tests with different types of netting and by using a very fine net we have had no problems with birds or any other type of animals. I think the shine of the droplet parts also repels birds from flying into the sculpture.”
The individual globules are attached to a pair of marine nets and fishing line which are then supported by stainless steel rings and the surrounding tree trunks. As the rain accumulates, the position of the net and droplets change, swelling or lowering, depending on the amount of precipitation.
“I was really excited by what the dancers did with the sculpture when they performed with it during the inauguration of the sculpture. I think there is so much more to be discovered through dance and the human body working directly with the installation.”
When the sculpture is empty, it weighs just 70 pounds and keeps its original form. When the pouches are full after rainfall, it falls lower to the ground and can weigh more than 800 pounds. Viewed from below, the piece looks almost like a cloud that’s been dismantled and frozen in time.
“Of course, the best thing is to experience the sculpture in person. In this case, to see the movement is especially important as well as the large scale relative to one’s body. And Arte Sella is an amazing sculpture park where people can see hundreds of interesting installations along numerous paths through the landscape. I hope people will make a trip there!”
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