If the expectation of Jupiter Artland is of gardens, fields and woodlands – of surprising encounters with permanent sculpture amidst the landscape – two new temporary installations of works by American artist Tara Donovan, and the ever-surprising young British artist Samara Scott, shift the attention indoors.
Whilst our attention may in the first instance be drawn away from the surrounding setting, in the work of Tara Donovan we are enveloped in references to the natural world. In three expansive installations, Donovan draws upon a repertoire of benign, everyday materials to create a series of works which organically unfold though an inventive, and singular use, of a particular material. For example, ‘Untitled (Mylar)’ (2011) recalls the form of a complex molecular structure as seen through a microscope. This modular asymmetric clustering of cones and spheres, repeatedly folded out of this industrial raw material, spills in every which direction as if uncontrollably reproducing. An existing work, like some virulent parasite it reconfigures and adapts itself, moulding itself to each new environment in which it is shown.
Spanning a nearby wall, ‘Untitled (Slinkies)’ (2015) is an expansive drawing composed from series upon series of the popular children’s toy. Flattened and affixed to the wall, the kinetic potential of the intertwined helices is re-harnessed in coils of spiralling lines that worm and trail their way across the wall. In this work, like the others, although in each case untitled, Donovan references the particular choice material from which her sculptures are formed. The essential ‘thingness’ of the referenced object are there in the sculptures to behold, but in each case the received function has long been neutralised: the materials have become so much more.
It is ‘Untitled (Plastic Cups)’, presented in the opulent setting of the ballroom of the Jacobean Mansion that is the real surprise debutante of the season. The setting is itself something to behold, and, in part, it makes the work. The transformative use of the infinitely disposable plastic cup is amplified by its proximity to the lavishly moulded detail of the ceiling and the ornate chandeliers that hang from it. The work itself, assembled from over half a million plastic cups, spills and rises across the ballroom floor. Piles of interconnecting cups stacked at different heights create an undulating topographic landscape. In its monochromatic simplicity, the shifting density and opacity of the installation’s terrain is reminiscent of a frozen polar cap or a billowing cloudscape.
Located in the Tin Roof Gallery, Samara Scott shares a similar preference for the mundane, taking a rooms-worth of contract or industrial carpet as a base material from which to construct her installation, ‘Still Life’ (2015). Having initially carpeted the lofted room – floor and ceiling – Scott then cut away, repainted and reconstituted the various planes into an interlocking tapestry of conflicting imagery. Rich in primitive, expressionist influence there are nods to Die Brücke, and to Matisse and les Fauves, but this is mixed into a heady cocktail with a hyper real colour palette of kitsch motifs drawn from consumer advertising, social media and the artifice of the web. The quality of line, geometric blocks of flat colour, the stylised silhouette and illustrative tendency, all coalesce in this immersive collage, creating something akin to a twenty-first century cave painting.