Artist Nick Viney has created a poignant artistic memorial to the 11 lives lost in the Gulf of Mexico oil spill disaster by representing them as oiled seabird sculptures.
The controversial painter and sculptor has also made her own version of the Rodin masterwork ‘The Gates of Hell’ for her forthcoming exhibition, which attacks the nature of corporate greed and the widening gulf between rich and poor.
Both the gates and the 11 seabirds – individually mounted on wooden plinths - are the central exhibits of the solo exhibition ‘Gulf’ at Duchy Square Centre for Creativity in Princetown, Devon (1 Oct – 7 Nov). All the sculptures to be displayed have been created solely from re-cycled material.
The tragic blast aboard the rig Deep Water Horizon has provoked a dramatic and controversial departure for Nick, one of the South West’s leading painters and sculptors, who has built her reputation on artwork that draws heavily on the Dartmoor landscape where she lives.
“Oiled seabirds are perhaps the most stark and familiar example of the innocent victims of oils spills such as that we have witnessed in the Gulf of Mexico, so to me they were the perfect symbol for depicting the human loss in this tragedy,” explained Nick, who runs her own studio Green with NV from her home in Yelverton, Devon.
“I cannot understand the pursuit of these finite fossil fuels when the risks to our environment are so high. It is a recognised fact that in the last 20 years, no improvements have been made to the clean up operations of such oil spills. It is plain greed and totally irresponsible, said Nick.
Nick also decided to create her own version of Rodin’s monumental sculpture ‘The Gates of Hell’ - which she saw in Paris 20 years ago - as she felt its symbolism lent itself perfectly to her themes for the Gulf exhibition.
Standing six metres high, four metres wide and one metre deep Rodin’s famous work depicts a scene from The Inferno, the first section of Dante Alighieri’s Divine Comedy and contained 180 figures, including his first interpretation of The Thinker – arguably his most famous work.
Commissioned by the Directorate of Fine Arts in 1880, it was designed as an entrance to a Decorative Arts Museum in Paris that was subsequently never built. Following Rodin’s death in 1917, the sculpture was housed in what was the Hotel Biron, later becoming the Musee Rodin.
“I started to research the tragedy online and watched the live video feed of the gushing pipe and it struck me that I was looking at our own ‘Gateway to Hell’.
“Central to the gates exhibit are two figures; to the left the symbol of the strong armed corporate giants, clawing at the door to open it wider in pursuit of ‘liquid gold’, while to the right there is representation of the ordinary person, you and I, desperately trying to stem the flow and redress the balance of wealth and power. The gates are also adorned with other pitiful oiled seabirds.”
Other exhibits include ‘To Bee or Not to Be’ which looks at the importance of bio-diversity and the gulf that has developed between our society and its food production.
In Death of the Plough Horse Nick has created her own macabre take on people leaving the land, both physically and spiritually - and the effect that is having on society today, a topic close to her heart given her rural roots.
“I see recent events in the Gulf of Mexico as further evidence of corporate giants continuing to plunder our planet unchecked," said Nick. "Just how bad a disaster must we witness before we realise what is of real value to us on this Earth?”
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