Paper Bridge Artist Turns Barns into Waterfalls
A renowned Teesdale artist, who hit the headlines with a paper bridge strong enough to hold a car, is creating a brand new installation inspired by the waterfalls of the River Tees this autumn.
Steve Messam will transform three simple whitewashed barns into a unique and stunning artwork called Waterfall which will run across 14-16 and 21-23 October.
Waterfall is part of Durham County Council’s fresh approach to visual arts and this remarkable artwork will draw on the rich history, geography and characteristics of the area around it.
Steve said: “In this area you have the barns on one side of the road and Low Force waterfall on the other. This installation brings those two significant elements of the landscape together and makes people think about them in conjunction with each other. The two elements are inextricably connected; the barns are made from local stone, which has come from the ground here, the same ground that the water is flowing over and eroding to create the waterfalls.”
Steve will film each of the waterfalls of the River Tees – Cauldron Snout, High Force and Low Force – in high definition, slow motion video. The films will then be projected onto all four sides of three whitewashed barns that cascade down the hillside to the east of Bowlees Visitor Centre, effectively wrapping them in mesmerising slow motion pulses of water.
The artist explained: “I will be filming each of the waterfalls in real time, but these films will be slowed down by about 20 times so that you can really see the power of the water in a way that just isn’t possible with the human eye.”
This exhibition takes art beyond the confines of a traditional gallery space and directly out into the community. Steve explained: “There is something wonderful about creating a piece of art that sits in the middle of the landscape it is inspired by. Galleries certainly have their place and purpose in the world of art, but installations like this invite people, who may not normally engage with art, to come along and experience something new. Being outdoors, people can be really vocal about how the artwork makes them feel and discuss it with those around them without feeling the confines and behavioural requirements of a gallery upon them.
“We’re anticipating that some people will come and observe for long periods, others will walk past with only a passing glance, some will love it and some will hate it, but that’s the joy of art.”
Waterfall will show for six nights (5-9pm) over two weekends, 14,15 and 16 October and 21, 22 and 23 October 2016. Steve added: “The timing of the installation coincides with 200 years since the artist Turner came up the valley. When he travelled here, it was during ‘the summer that never was’, because there was so much rain, but that meant he saw the waterfalls here at their most spectacular. Turner produced one image of Cauldron Snout that actually incorporated elements of High and Low Force into the same image and that is similar to what I’m doing with the video projections; blending the footage of all three waterfalls together to project as one onto the barns.”
Waterfall will be accompanied by a series of workshops with local primary schools exploring the local landscape and geology. The workshops will be delivered by the North Pennines AONB Partnership and have been funded by Cllrs Richard Bell and Ted Henderson. Kaye Jemmeson, from the North Pennines AONB Partnership, said: “Steve has this amazing ability to create these eye-catching, bold art installations that sit effortlessly in our rural landscape. Putting art into the outdoors attracts new audiences and we hope our work with local schools will extend that reach even further.”
Waterfall has been organised by Durham County Council in association with North Pennines AONB Partnership and is produced by kind permission of Raby Estates.
More information and details about park and ride from Middleton-in-Teesdale – see http://www.northpennines.org.uk/BowleesVisitorCentreEvents and http://www.durham.gov.uk/waterfall
Released: 05 October 2016