Escher inspires flight of the fish

WITH Easter and the south coast gallery season upon us, Vancouver Arts Centre has received its full complement of 80 entries for the 2019 Great Southern Art Award and began showing them on Good Friday.

Last week, Denmark artist Marion Nelson was busy entering When Fish Can Fly into the exhibition at the historic Vancouver Street gallery.

“There’s 230 individually hand-folded origami cranes, and I used 3.5cm-square paper, so I had to fold them with tweezers,” Nelson explained while unpacking her latest artwork.

“I like the 3-D aspect of it, because when the light shines on these cranes they form a different perspective because of the shadows cast.

“And, when you put a light on it, it’s especially interesting.”

Marion Nelson with When fish can fly. Photo: Chris Thomson

Nelson said she bought the paper for the cranes and for the background at a well-known shop in Tokyo called Ozu Washi.

“It was established in 1856 and all they’ve ever done is make exquisite paper,” she said.

“The work itself is shaped like a fish, but it’s made of origami cranes so they can ‘take off’.

“I have done quite a few in this style.”

Nelson said she first entered the Great Southern Art Award in 2017.

 “I think my artwork was sold on opening night, and the was a water colour over a mono print,” she recalled.

“But, I have segued into semi-3D work, incorporating intricate designs.

“The act of folding is contemplative, and in this artwork it took considerable time.”

Nelson has lived in Denmark for more than 20 years.

She said it was “amazing” how she got into “this 3-D thing with the cranes”.

“Because I wanted to fit them all in the frame, I had to make them smaller and smaller,” she said.

“When they’re small, you can make patterns and designs with them – when they’re big, they’re just one sculptural piece.

“I wanted them to be small and just be able to create designs with them, and have colour schemes.”

She said inspiration for her current work came from M.C. Escher’s Sky and Water.  

“The design for When Fish Can Fly expresses the idea of metamorphosis through the passage of life,” she explained.

“The transformation of fish to bird in flight is expressed in a fluid circular motion, gathering strength as it increases in intensity.

“Yin and Yang is expressed in the positive and negative spaces.”

Contributing artists are in the running for various prizes, including the big one – the $5000 City of Albany Acquisitive Award, which is accompanied by an exhibition or residency for the creator of the winning work.

As The Voice of the South went to print, Nelson received great news from the Pemberton Art Prize – that she had won an award with her origami entry titled Serenity.  

The Great Southern Art Awards exhibition is open Mondays to Fridays between 10am and 4pm, and Saturdays from 10am to 3pm until June 1.

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