‘Hollow’ seeks to connect the process of extracting material from one place to the process of building something somewhere else. It seeks to explore the equal and opposite actions of excavation and construction and to give voice to ‘what is left in the emptiness?’
We are constantly displacing material. Small children construct dens, play with Lego and get lost in computer games such as ‘Minecraft’ and even smaller ones are content with digging holes in sand or clay. Our desire to displace material and to re-configure it is a defining act of creativity. ‘Hollow’ seeks to explore this fundamental construction of culture. And further to consider ‘mines as cultural mirrors.’
‘Hollow’ is a sculptural installation of cardboard boxes that connect together with magnets to create a large hollow into which the public are invited. This cardboard ‘mine’ is built on an acrylic mirrored floor that reflects the form above, completing it as a container of space. There is an equal and opposite amount of extracted ‘ore’ in the form of loose cardboard boxes that invite playful investigation and construction. These provide extensive opportunities for the public to play with the interactive elements of the magnetic cardboard boxes – stacking and forming, hollowing and collapsing.
The idea for this work developed when I was artist-in-residence at Fiskars Village in Finland, a thriving arts and cultural space that was once alive with blast furnaces and molten iron. In the 17th Century, copper ore was smelted there that had been extracted from the local Orijarvi copper mine. The only record of this beautiful space is a draughtsman’s cross-sectional drawing from 1826. No data has been recorded since because the mine flooded once exhausted.
Globally and historically, we have burrowed underground for raw materials to build wealth. With which we have concentrated population and cultivated society. We have much to thank for the underground chambers that gave birth to life above ground.
I want to make visible these underground spaces that serve as a mirror of the culture above ground. And I want to rationalise the organic, sensuous forms to restore the industrial drive behind their inception.
Hollow explores themes of making, un-making, displacement, creativity, destruction and ultimately how mines serve as a cultural mirror, albeit through a glass darkly.