Tuesday, 18 September 2007

Norwich Fringe Festival, Art Trail, Saints or Sinners

I have now almost completed my two new works for the summer house at the top of Will Giles's exotic garden. It is such a wonderful location a work of art in its own right, I am honored to be able to work with in it. The two works are a pair and relate to the climate change area of the garden which Will has designed for plants that will thrive with global warming. In my work I am looking at the different facets of us all learning to cope with the reality of climate change and our ways of responding to it. What morels come into play when the stakes are so high.

The main feature of these two works are feathers, all found in the wild around Norfolk. The feathers/blades represent the double edged sword dilemma of the wind turbine. A bird's feather has been seen as a thing of beauty from ancient times, while the sight of a turbine blade for many is ugly. The proposals for building wind turbines give rise to very strong feelings and the formation of anti turbine protests groups. Yet other groups of people see elegance in the form and function of wind turbines and have no objections, but as yet I am not aware of groups of local people forming pro turbine groups. The shape of a wing feather and turbine blade is very similar as their functions are similar and the symbolism is powerful, so what role is our aesthetics having in shaping and saving our world?

One consequence of the strong local protest lobbies against wind turbines/farms has had the effect of pushing the construction of them off shore. A sure case of out of sight, out of mind.
A larger offshore wind-farm of up to 108 turbines is planned off of the North Norfolk coast in 2008; it will be visible on clear days from the shore. The formation of the wind-farm will be a symmetrical grid of turbines forming a diamond or lozenge shape 12km long. A large example of Sir Thomas Brown's quincunx grid. This area is of great importance to birds. Four birds species: Red Throated Diver, Terns , Greater Black backed Gull and the Scoter Duck, have been identified as at risk from fatal bird strike with the rotors and disturbance from badly sited wind farms. The effect on the wider range of bird and sea life is unpredictable. It may also affect the local fishing industry. However as the RSPB state “If global warming is not halted it will be the greatest threat to biodiversity worldwide”. Creating a greener national electricity grid is an essential part of that process. Are wind turbines part of out salvation? Are they saints or sinners?

The significance of the symbolism of three elements joined in the center as the sign of the Holy Trinity has also impacted greatly on my work. The spiritual effect of the world being in the grips of elemental powers that are beyond human control has influenced my work. The thought of winged guardian angels keeping watch over life on earth is a very comforting concept. For centuries the carved angels of Norfolk's medieval church roofs have kept watch over the congregations. Linking the concepts of spiritual, elemental and man-made power form another trinity.

© Sue White

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