Wednesday, 2 July 2014

York Curiouser - Matt Hawthorn on the River Foss

York Curiouser: The city explored through contemporary art interventions

York Curiouser is an arts project running from 14 June to 7 July, comprising new works from leading artists from around the UK who have been inspired by the rich history of York. The project encourages residents and visitors alike to discover exciting contemporary art in hidden and sometimes surprising parts of York.


I have been helping out by taking some of the promotional photographs earlier in the year and photographing some of the installations during the exhibition period. It has been a great pleasure exploring new corners of the city and seeing the artwork come to life. 
As we are now into the final week of the project, I thought I would write a new post each day showcasing and reflecting on what I've seen.

Matt Hawthorn

Matt Hawthorn is an "artist, academic and educator" who explores the relationships between people and their environments by combining art, design, architecture and performance. Matt’s main contribution to York Curiouser was a one-time event called Everything There Is To Be Known along the River Foss, the unloved and overlooked sibling to the more celebrated Ouse.

I was particularly excited to be able to attend this event, having recently completed a year-long photography project around Hungate and the Foss – the Ouse may have the nice bridges and the wine bars, but the Foss has the character. And the winos.

The event was due to run from noon till dusk, but last minute tweaks to the mechanics of the installation meant it didn’t really get going until mid-afternoon. It was a fairly grey day, still and dry. Nothing much was moving on the Foss, and it threatened to be a bit of a non-starter. Then Matt appeared almost out of nowhere, gently drifting up the Foss in his dinghy, practically wearing his cargo of bright blue balloons like some giant inflatable afro.

The first couple of balloons were released somewhat tentatively and shyly scampered to the banks of the river, maybe not sure what was expected of them. The next one however, had a clearer sense of purpose and strode confidently downstream for a good while, before pausing to wait for the others to catch up.

As more and more balloons were released the installation really seemed to come together – bright, big balloons punctuated the murky water, reflecting alongside the greens of the trees and the red of the traffic lights, turning the often gloomy Foss into quite the riot of colour. 

Each balloon carried a small umbrella that bobbed up and down as it floated along, revealing glimpses of its written secrets, such as: HowDeepHowRichTheMudThatFills, AffectationsCanBeDangerous and ISawTheAngelInTheMarbleAndICarved. These umbrella/balloons (umbralloons?) each seemed to move at their own pace, before speeding and rising up as their ice-buoys melted, releasing them into the sky and away across the city.
At one point a group of passers-by stopped to photograph a balloon as it achieved lift off, with one of them catching and investigating it before releasing it into the wild like some rehabilitated bird. All in all it was quite a magical experience.

Wednesday, 2 July 2014

York Curiouser - Matt Hawthorn on the River Foss

York Curiouser: The city explored through contemporary art interventions

York Curiouser is an arts project running from 14 June to 7 July, comprising new works from leading artists from around the UK who have been inspired by the rich history of York. The project encourages residents and visitors alike to discover exciting contemporary art in hidden and sometimes surprising parts of York.


I have been helping out by taking some of the promotional photographs earlier in the year and photographing some of the installations during the exhibition period. It has been a great pleasure exploring new corners of the city and seeing the artwork come to life. 
As we are now into the final week of the project, I thought I would write a new post each day showcasing and reflecting on what I've seen.

Matt Hawthorn

Matt Hawthorn is an "artist, academic and educator" who explores the relationships between people and their environments by combining art, design, architecture and performance. Matt’s main contribution to York Curiouser was a one-time event called Everything There Is To Be Known along the River Foss, the unloved and overlooked sibling to the more celebrated Ouse.

I was particularly excited to be able to attend this event, having recently completed a year-long photography project around Hungate and the Foss – the Ouse may have the nice bridges and the wine bars, but the Foss has the character. And the winos.

The event was due to run from noon till dusk, but last minute tweaks to the mechanics of the installation meant it didn’t really get going until mid-afternoon. It was a fairly grey day, still and dry. Nothing much was moving on the Foss, and it threatened to be a bit of a non-starter. Then Matt appeared almost out of nowhere, gently drifting up the Foss in his dinghy, practically wearing his cargo of bright blue balloons like some giant inflatable afro.

The first couple of balloons were released somewhat tentatively and shyly scampered to the banks of the river, maybe not sure what was expected of them. The next one however, had a clearer sense of purpose and strode confidently downstream for a good while, before pausing to wait for the others to catch up.

As more and more balloons were released the installation really seemed to come together – bright, big balloons punctuated the murky water, reflecting alongside the greens of the trees and the red of the traffic lights, turning the often gloomy Foss into quite the riot of colour. 

Each balloon carried a small umbrella that bobbed up and down as it floated along, revealing glimpses of its written secrets, such as: HowDeepHowRichTheMudThatFills, AffectationsCanBeDangerous and ISawTheAngelInTheMarbleAndICarved. These umbrella/balloons (umbralloons?) each seemed to move at their own pace, before speeding and rising up as their ice-buoys melted, releasing them into the sky and away across the city.
At one point a group of passers-by stopped to photograph a balloon as it achieved lift off, with one of them catching and investigating it before releasing it into the wild like some rehabilitated bird. All in all it was quite a magical experience.