False Tree

The Connaught Hotel has unveiled its “Christmas Tree” in Carlos Place, London. This year, the tree is designed by Antony Gormley who says it is made from branches of a Western Red Cedar, Thuja plicata. Today, Thuja is native only in North America and Eastern Asia.

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The 17.5m tall trunk has been transformed into a tapering column of brilliant light, supporting branches and foliage.

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The Western Red Cedar, Thuja plicata, is cultivated commercially for use as a garden hedge, an  alternative to Leylandii hedging. It is slower growing but still provides a dense, evergreen, conifer hedge. The leaves hang in sprays which are clipped to shape in early autumn.
Gormley collaborated with Zumtobel and their team of lighting innovators on this project. Rather than decorate the outside of the tree they lit its core, the trunk, transforming it into a radiant centre against which the branches become illuminated and silhouetted.

Last year’s tree was by Damien Hirst and attracted criticism for its display of syringes and scissors:

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The Line

Megan Piper’s new London sculpture walk is called The Line and follows the Greenwich Meridian north across the Thames into the Olympic Park at Stratford. There is strong influence from the sciences.

Quantum Cloud by A Gormley is composed of a central group of 325 extended tetrahedral sections which are connected to over 3,500 of the same elements extending into space.

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Evoking the quantum age, and suggesting an unstable relation between energy and mass, it questions whether the body is produced by the field or the field by the body. Visually, it was inspired by conversations between Gormley and quantum physicist Basil Hiley.

 

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A Slice of Reality by R Wilson is taken from an old sand dredger.

 

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A Bullet from a Shooting Star by A Chinneck is 30m high and made from galvanised iron.

Turning in the Wind

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David Watkinson has made a series of sculptures based on seeds of the many maple species. They rotate gently in the breeze.

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Acer rubra has the typical pairs of seeds with opposite wings:

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Water, Water Everywhere

Why is there so much water on and around our planet, and where did it come from?

One idea is that it originated from ice specks floating in a cosmic cloud more than 4.6 billion years ago. Such interstellar water is millions of years older than the solar system itself. This water survived the solar system’s chaotic creation and came to Earth.

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(Bill Saxton, NSF National Radio Astronomy Observatory)

Much of the heavy water formed in the interstellar cloud and then traveled across the solar system.

About one atom in 6420 of hydrogen has a neutron and is called deuterium. It accounts for approximately 0.0156% of all the naturally occurring hydrogen in the oceans. The more common isotope (hydrogen-1 or protium) accounts for more than 99.98%.

Deuterium-rich water is found on other planets and moons, even here on Earth, but researchers are not sure where it came from.

A recently constructed computer model shows how such old ice molecules could have survived the sun’s violent radiation blasts, and gone on to the present planet Earth and its neighbours.

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Water is strongly associated with this sculpture called Barbora, by the American artist Vladas Vildžiūnas, presently found in Thornton Park, Vancouver.  The original concept was a lady walking in a park in solitude with breezes adding movement to her garments. Others see it as the movement of water in similar free space.

The New Tate

Dissident Chinese artist Ai Weiwei is returning to Tate Modern’s Turbine Hall with a huge tree sculpture to mark the gallery’s transformation.

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The work is a 22ft-tall sculpture bolted together from parts of dead trees. It will go on show in the entrance to the museum that Weiwei filled with porcelain sunflower seeds in 2010.

Tate’s new 10-storey building, the Switch House, will include three floors of galleries connected to the current building by a bridge, café, restaurant, members room and viewing terrace.

Visitors will arrive on 17 June to find Ai Weiwei’s recently acquired Tree (2015)—one of many works added to the collection since 2000 when Tate Modern opened—on the bridge over the central Turbine Hall. Three quarters of the works selected for new displays in the galleries in the Boiler House and Switch House have been acquired over the past 15 years.

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The displays across the galleries will be more international and include more works by women. Artists from 57 countries will be represented to expand the presentations of Modern and contemporary art. Morris said that “familiar histories will be refocused,” by adding the “pre-history of global art” as well as showing a “fully global” view of contemporary art. She gave as an example the Brazilian artist Cildo Meireles’s Babel (2001), a tower of 800 transistor radios creating a “global chatterbox”.

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Familiar works from the collection will be on display in new ways in the Boiler House galleries, including Picasso’s Weeping Women (1937), which will be placed in the context of civil wars alongside depictions of other conflicts. Matisse’s The Snail (1953) will be among the works hung in a space designed to introduce first-time visitors to the gallery. But the walls of Tate Modern’s Rothko room will be the same grey, Morris said. A new app supported by Bloomberg will help visitors find their way around the displays and bigger building.

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Serota and Morris said they will be glad to get the Tanks back. These are the performance and installation spaces beneath the new extension, which opened briefly in 2012.

 

Paradigm

Conrad Shawcross’s sculpture , Paradigm, is being erected outside the Francis Crick Institute, the new biomedical research building next to St Pancras station in London.

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Shawcross’s steel tower is formed from a succession of tetrahedrons that grow in size as they stretch into the sky. They stand 14m tall and 5m wide at the summit.

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14m high, Paradigm is one of the largest sculptures in London and is on the plaza outside the front entrance of the Crick. It starts from a base of under one metre wide, which seems to puncture the pavement. Each subsequent tetrahedron grows steadily in volume to the top, with a tetrahedron that is five-metres wide.

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Race

These bronze sculptures by Malvina Hoffman, a student of Rodin, are on display at the Field Museum in Chicago after being put in storage in 1969.

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From left: Sir Arthur Keith, a Sudanese woman; Nobosodrou, a Mangbetu woman; and Dr. Hu Shih, from eastern China.

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A Nuer man from Sudan and a Tamil man from southeastern India. Commissioned in the 1930s to illustrate racial types. Over 100 bronzes by Hoffman were packed away in embarrassment (D Kasnic, New York Times).

Now, 50 bronzes are back as part of an exhibition exploring both Hoffman’s artistry and “the vexed history of the dubious scientific ideas that her talent was enlisted to serve. At the time of the bronzes’ creation, many anthropologists believed that the world’s people could be divided into distinct racial types, whose visible differences in skin tone, hair texture and bone structure explained differences in behaviour. Scientists can now show that human genetic variation doesn’t correspond to racial types. But people don’t always listen to scientists.”