Friday, December 13, 2013

CHRISTMAS AND THE ANIMALS


Christmas: the season of hope and love, of giving thanks, celebrating with our family, friends and colleagues, of acknowledging those who touch our lives throughout the year, time to rest and reflect, and to remember the words:
Peace on Earth, and Goodwill to all men.



The perfect time to enjoy Heritage, an amazing work by Chinese artist Cai Guo-Qiang currently showing at Brisbane's GoMA (Gallery of Modern Art).
Ninety-nine life-size replicas of animals from around the globe, come  together in one place to drink from a beautiful blue pool.
A single drop of 'rain' intermittently falls, the resulting ripples the only disruption to this peaceful scene.


Giraffes and zebras, an elephant, monkeys, gazelles.
Kangaroos, tigers, pandas...
Enmity is put aside, violence is absent, as all drink the water essential to survival.


Heritage is, of course, an allegory.
It is about the bridging of cultures, about coming together, overcoming fear, and living in peace.




It is profoundly moving, causing gasps of wonder and astonishment as viewers enter the room.  We know in an instant that the animals we see would not, in many cases, associate in this way.  And we are shocked by the beauty of seeing them suddenly working together in harmony.





Cai has spent considerable time in Australia, where he has observed the diversity of our society, the debates about immigration which constantly circulate, and the history of Australia's indigenous population.
He has visited North Stradbroke Island, just off the coast near Brisbane, and was inspired by its lakes:

  


  The animals stand on pristine white sand around the enormous pool, which takes up an entire gallery space.
Heritage is a new work, commissioned especially for the exhibition Falling Back to Earth, and will be on show through to 11 May 2014. 

Not to be missed!!



Enjoy the Season!!

XXXX

30 comments:

  1. The pictures and your description are breath taking. It must be absolutely magical in person. Thanks for showing us a glimpse of this wonderful world. It is unlikely I will get to experience it in person... unless it becomes a traveling show. One can hope :-)

    Darla

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Darla, I'm sure you would love it, because it is indeed magical, not just for adults but the many children who come and are awe-struck. It probably will pop up around the world in the future, but where? who knows :-)

      Delete
  2. And such a large message at work here behind the art! If these animals can drink from one pool then perhaps it's possible people around the world can find common ground, and find peace on Earth. Wow, it must be amazing to see this

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. A perfect message for the season, Sanda. Although I had seen photos, I was stunned by the power of this installation when I walked in. It is great that we are allowed to take pictures (with no flash)!

      Delete
  3. What a compelling piece of sculpture/art work Patricia - beautiful to look at and very thought provoking. I would love to see it, however, your photos convey it really well.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Compelling is a good description Rosemary. An interesting aspect is that some of the animals are slightly out of scale. It intensifies the experience because they are familiar yet strange at the same time. It was more difficult that I thought to do photos, and I have had two attempts at it - because we view the animals from behind as we circle the pool.

      Delete
  4. What an amazing exhibit! I'm glad you had the chance to see it. I wonder if this exhibit will travel to other places? If it makes it to Vancouver I will definitely be going.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. There is another piece, almost as large, in this exhibition. The two take up almost the entire ground floor of the GoMA. I'll write about the other one some time; it was developed and shown in Europe and now is here. I imagine Heritage will eventually travel. And yes, it is amazing!

      Delete
  5. Pretty amazing! You say "replicas", but were they once actually live animals? (Moving to Tulsa, I had to get used to the idea that Taxidermy was art.) I love the idea of the drop of water and rippling. Hope I get to your museum one of these days.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Not real at all, Beryl, and definitely not taxidermy. Some of them are deliberately out of scale, which adds to the charm and fascination. The drop of water is key to the experience. It is interesting how people voluntarily are quiet, and the hushed atmosphere is like a church, with the occasional drip and ripple. I hope you come here one day too Beryl. We can meet up and I'll give you a personal tour :-)

      Delete
  6. Wow. I love, love, love taxidermy and diorama-type settings. It's one of my favorite things to see in a museum. Those animals are really well done. Thanks for sharing.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Then you would love it Jennifer. Although these are entirely fabricated animals, I also love the old museum exhibits of taxidermied lions and tigers and so on.

      Delete
  7. Just amazing. I've never seen anything quite like it Patricia. Thanks for sharing this with us.
    Patricia x

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Cai is a very interesting artist Patricia, and I will show another piece, maybe after Christmas. This work is proving very popular, and with the school holidays now upon us, many family groups are going in there and enjoying the experience.

      Delete
  8. What a sight! Impressive. To see all those animals side by side around the pool.
    What a clever artist. And I too appreciate the idea behind it.
    Thank you for this post!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Good morning, Mette. As a lover of animals, I know you would enjoy this installation. Cai is a very clever, and thoughtful, artist.
      PS - please give a big Christmas kiss to Baby m from Australia!

      Delete
  9. That's truly awe-inspiring, Patricia. No wonder you were so impressed. It immediately brought to mind the verses from Isaiah 11 that we hear so often at this time of year: "The wolf shall live with the lamb, the leopard shall lie down with the kid, the calf and the lion and the fatling together, and a little child shall lead them."

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you Perpetua, that is the perfect verse to accompany Heritage. I wonder if Cai had it in mind - you never know. I think the timing of this exhibition is perfect, opening just on Christmas. It will be here for six months.

      Delete
  10. This is so cool, Patricia. It is a brilliant piece of art work. I love animals, and seeing all the different animals coming together like this is so special. They look so life-like, and it must be a beautiful sight. I love the tigers! Thank you for sharing this amazing scene with us.

    Love,
    ~Sheri

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I like the tigers too Sheri, they are very colorful. I'm sure you would enjoy walking around the installation - it is beautifully peaceful.

      Delete
  11. Thank you, Patricia, for introducing me to this work. I had not heard of Chinese artist Cai Guo-Qiang and do not know his art. Awesome!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. He is awesome, isn't he Debra. I will show another big work after Christmas. Happy Holiday season to you!

      Delete
  12. What a wonderful art work. I love things like this, where you can wander around and almost immerse yourself in it. There's something, too, about having life sized and very realistic creatures or people. There's an artist whose work I have sometimes seen displayed here, who does incredibly lifelike life sized sculptures of people. They're fascinating too.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. This is definitely an immersive work, Jenny, and I find watching the other viewers equally interesting. Now you have me trying to guess the artist with the sculptures of people - I wonder who it is?

      Delete
  13. What an amazing exhibition, I actually felt something evn by looking at it on the computer screen.
    Yes that was Charlie! The club is full of donated art and antiques, thy have some fascinating pieces, old proclamations and all sorts.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hello Tabitha, and I'm glad you like Cai's installation. It is quite amazing to walk into that space. I like the sound of that Caledonian Club!

      Delete
  14. Awe inspiring Patricia!! I'm so glad you took these wonderful photos - good girl for remembering your camera!!!

    I love the artist's use of a raindrop ripple - an analagy for reaching out to all species - I would love to have seen man as part of the concept.

    As you say a breathtaking work of art - as I've been writing this I've been racking my brains trying to think of a suitable venue in New Zealand for Cai's exhibition!!!

    Christmas hugs
    Shane XOX

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I have just received a little extra information about Heritage, Shane, to the effect that it may go touring. Fingers crossed for NZ! The animals were all made in Cai's home town of Quanzhou in China. They are made from polystyrene, gauze, goat hair, and some goat hide (only as a by-product of animals bred for food). Teeth and tongues are made from resin. Of course no animals were killed specifically for the purpose of making the artwork. The raindrop/ripple is key, and I love it too. Christmas hugs, and don't work too hard! xx

      Delete
  15. Merry Christmas, Patricia. May peace and love fill your home on this special day. I'm so glad that I met you in blog land, dear.

    Love,
    ~Sheri

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Dear Sheri, I'm glad we met in blogland too! Joys and blessings of Christmas to you and your family. Love from Australia xx

      Delete