If you have never been to the Yorkshire Sculpture Park (YSP) then I would say get yourself there ASAP. Set in the 500 acre grounds of the picturesque Bretton Estate you will meander the paths, fields and forests peppered with sculptures and installations from world renowned sculptors including Henry Moore, Anthony Gormely and Ai Weiwei, to name a few. In addition to what is placed in the grounds there are several indoor galleries hosting featured exhibitions, but the focus of this post is an installation titled Seizure by the artist Roger Hiorns.
Roger Hiorns works with solutions of copper sulfate to create beautiful objects coated in vibrant blue crystals. The molecular biologists reading this will be aware of the antifungal properties of copper sulfate. In our labs copper sulfate solutions are placed inside the bio-incubators used to create growth environments for our precious cells. Heating the solution evaporates the water and causes the compound to form crystals. The speed at which this evaporation occurs determines the size of the crystals – fast
evaporation will form small crystals whereas slower evaporation will form larger crystals. Roger Hiorns has taken this humble blue solution and used it to make beautiful art.
Previously, he has worked on a smaller scale, encrusting a car engine and ivy branches in the copper sulfate solution. However for his most recent project, Seizure, he scaled up quite substantially, filling a Southwark council flat with 75,000 litres of copper sulfate solution, and then slowly heating the space to induce crystal formation before draining out the excess. The result of this Turner Prize nominated work, is a beautiful and somewhat disorienting space eliciting a simultaneous feeling of calm and unease. The 31 tonne structure was purchased by the Arts Council Collection and moved to the YSP in 2011, where this blogger is told it will stay for the foreseeable future. This juncture between the creativity of art and specificity of scientific process is now able to be enjoyed by all who visit the YSP.