“Red on Green” is an installation by Anya Gallaccio at Jupiter Artland, near Edinburgh.
Rather than multiply articles I will append further updates beneath. Scroll down to see the latest photos.
‘Red and Green’ is a carpet of bright red roses. There is no ‘green’ visible, perhaps the occasional sliver but the overwhelming view is red.
After one week the 10,000 red rose heads look significantly different.
The vivid, velvety reds have darkened to a deep red and as the heads shrivel, the green leaves behind enter the scene, albeit they too are withering.
The rose. So often a symbol of love and life, left to decay. Not all art is about ‘pretty’
The deep reds have gone and most of the rose heads have turned to a brownish colour and the greenery beneath is moulding.
It was a lovely sunny day this week and the buntings were up at Jupiter Artland for the Queen’s Jubilee celebration.
There isn’t a significant change between the week two and week three situation. The heads continue to shrink but remain largely the same colour. The greenery beneath is more mouldy and visually blends into the general brownish scene.
Photographers and artists will know that light is always changing. Even with this installation that is situated indoors, while the main light is from internal artificial lighting the windows introduce strong natural lighting that changes with the time of day and weather.
This presents a challenge. What is a correct exposure? Is it the external light that continually changes or is it the internal light? With the strong shaft of light entering it does the photographer expose for the strong light or the internal light? The image above shows that the camera cannot cope with such a wide contrast, with the highlights burnt out and the lowlights in deep shadow.
In the absence of controlled lighting, the colours in this sequence of images varies with the effect of so many influences, colour balance, exposure, brightness, contrast, etc., all affect how the images look.
However, the predominant shades and tones don’t seem to have changed very much between weeks two and three.
The week three upload to this article was delayed due to technical issues. My PC is dead :(. I’m working with a laptop but all my working environment needs to be reconstructed.
There is still little significant change from the preceding weeks. The overall tone seems to be a deeper brown. As stated in previous weeks the effects of external light and other variants change the perceived colours.
Unsurprisingly, the mould on the greenery beneath the heads is at the most advanced stage but there are still some heads with occasional hints of the deeper red, akin the their state on week one.
‘Well spotted’ if you noticed I missed ‘Week Five’. Unfortunately I was unable to attend, so had to miss it.
Week Six sees the opening of Anya’s new installation at Jupiter which will be the subject of another article, ‘The Light Shines Out of Me‘, while ‘Red on Green’ continues to decay with a noticeable accompanying fragrance.
There is now little indication of the original red colour. The heads have shrunk significantly with large gaps in between revealing more of the moulded greenery.
The overall tone is still brown and with the mixed illumination hard to accurately replicate in a photograph. The wider overall view (image bellow) tends to shift towards a warmer browny-orange hue picked up from the artificial lights, while the higher viewing angle (image above), looking down, is more ‘true’.
This week there was a significant ‘pong’ in the room from the installation.
The outside light coming in through the roof windows was dull and grey at the time of shooting. The usual internal artificial lighting was switched off and different artificial lighting was turned on. This makes the overall impression of the roses seem very grey and dark muddy brown. The difference between this week’s and previous week’s photographs is more to do with the ‘colour temperature’ from light sources than the installation itself. The images on previous weeks must be significantly ‘warmer’ than this week due to the other artificial lighting. This week they are ‘colder’. It is hard to say any are completely ‘true’ or accurate but the images do reflect the mood based on the lighting available on each visit.
There are significant amounts of greenery visible with bright, lighter green tones visible across the field of view.
Beneath the mould and decay there is a surprising number of relatively less decayed leaves and stalks being revealed as the first disintegrating layer melts away.
The main moulding and decay seems to be in the greenery. While the rose heads have shrunk and browned they are all still there.
Traces of living organisms are evident in the silvery trails of slugs or snails. These have been noticed on several weeks throughout but this is the first time to photograph them.
There isn’t very much changing visually now so ‘week eight’ has been deliberately missed.
Upon entering the the building there is a marked aroma. The slightly unpleasant ‘pong’ of recent weeks is now less unpleasant and could almost be hinting at ‘potpourri’. If this continues I can imagine that, as the residual moisture from the roses dries out, the smell will become very pleasing and something that needs to be experienced rather than photographed. With the room full of such a large quantity of dried flowers this has the potential to be powerful.
Anyway, here are some images from this week’s visit.
If you don’t look through the gaps between the heads, it is looking like a sea of potpourri.
Yes, Week 10 was skipped. There are no new images this week as I didn’t take any photos of this installation on my visit. Visually there is nothing new or different from previous weeks. The aroma in the room is still marked. Whether it is pleasant is a matter of opinion but it certainly has lost the ‘pungent’ smell it once had.
I’ve been visiting weekly/bi-weekly but there is no significant visual change.
Jupiter Artland is now closed for the year.
It might have been interesting to see the latter end of the installation and what happened to 10,000 decayed rose heads. I guess they were swept up and disposed of but I don’t know.
If it were down to me I would have put them all into a glass case and kept them for observation for as long as there is something to see.
Do you ‘get it’?
It was interesting to watch people walk in to the installation area, pause for only a few moments and walk out again.
So often with art ‘installations’ the artistic worth may not be so obvious to the casual viewer.
On the opening day of this installation, apart from the beauty of a vivid ‘sea of red roses’, someone could perhaps have been forgiven for thinking that it is just a load of flower heads scattered on the floor.
But what does it mean? Does it mean or say anything? Is that art? If it is, what is it about?
Anyone visiting at any one moment will only see that moment.
Traditional clichés of art in drawings, photographs, paintings or sculptures may make an instant impression, snapshots frozen in time.
‘Red on Green’ is ‘living art’, continually changing, an unfolding story which in this case is a very slow one. Also in this case, it is not about living but about dying, about death and decay. Even the most beautiful and fragrant things must die and undergo a transformation.
For the rose as a symbol of love and sensuality, a wealth of hidden meaning may lie beneath the surface. Of love cut off, love lost, banished or forbidden. Love’s hope that has died. Yet through the process, of mould, of decay, of pungent smells, the loss of the beautiful vivid colours, a rich new colour has appeared and may yet yield a pleasant new fragrance.
I don’t know how this story will unfold but ‘Red and Green’ is the prelude to something new. A cycle of life, death and … ?
Perhaps my PC was playing along with the metaphor …. I have a shiny new one!
Anya has a new installation at Jupiter Artland called ‘The light shines out of me’.
See the Focus On Scotland, “Red on Green”, ‘preview article‘.
Read another Focus on Scotland article about Jupiter Artland here.
Jupiter Artland is a Country Estate located between the villages of East Calder, Wilkieston, Kirknewton and Ratho. It is a short 10 minute drive from the outskirts of Edinburgh or Livingston.
Opening times are limited so check for the latest information and find out more about Jupiter Artland and the Jupiter Artland Foundation on their website.
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