The Liveliest of Elements, an Ordinary Extraordinary Material
Laura Harrington is interested in the natural world and how humans understand and interact with it – she works with multiple mediums including film, drawing and installation. A shared interest in upland environments and peat as a lively and dynamic material provided the impetus for a collaboration with physical scientist Jeff Warburton (Department of Geography, Durham University) as part of a Leverhulme Trust Artist Residency. Their collaboration focused on Moss Flats, an upland bare peat flat in the North Pennines. Harrington evolved this research into an exploration of this dynamic eco system through moving image, words and sound.
The title of the exhibition was inspired by artist Joseph Beuys who once described a European bog as ‘the liveliest of elements’ and scientist Noel Hobbs who referred to peat as an ‘ordinary extraordinary material’ due to its unusual characteristics and behaviour as an earth surface material.
The exhibition included: The Liveliest of Elements, a new moving image work that explores the nature of Moss Flats through image and sound – the supposed nothingness revealed in its entirety; dis/sonance, a new four channel sound installation consisting of five voices recorded at Moss Flats – aiming to capture the movement and rawness present on the surface of the site, translated through the most primitive and paired down instrument we have – the human voice; and Haggs and High Places, an artist’s book published by New Writing North as part of the Durham Book Festival 2015 – providing an insight into the research and ideas behind the exhibition and including contributions by Jeff Warburton and new writing by poet and shepherd Josephine Dickinson.
A specially commissioned text by Professor Mike Crang, Head of Department of Geography, Durham University was available at both venues.
The Liveliest of Elements, an Ordinary Extraordinary Material was commissioned by Invisible Dust and supported by Arts Council England, The Leverhulme Trust, Durham University, The North Pennines AONB Partnership, Woodhorn Museum and Durham Book Festival.
The Norman Chapel, Durham Castle
10 – 17 October 2015, 1.30 – 2.30pm daily (except Sunday 3-4pm)*
Preview Wednesday 14 October, 5 – 8pm
Walker Fan Drift, Woodhorn Museum, Northumberland
17 October – 1 November 2015, screenings at 12.30, 1.30 and 2.30pm daily *
Saturday 31 October, 2pm, ‘In Conversation’ closing event chaired by Alice Sharp (Invisible Dust) with Laura Harrington, Jeff Warburton, (Durham University) and archeologist Rob Young.
The Liveliest of Elements, an Ordinary Extraordinary Material preview,
The Norman Chapel, Wednesday 14 October, 5 – 8pm
Reading by Josephine Dickinson at 7pm.
Walker Fan Drift, Woodhorn Museum, Friday 23 October
An opportunity to view the work in the evening alongside a preview of new work by Julian Germain.
Sunday 11 October, 1.30 – 2.30pm
Durham Town Hall (Burlison Gallery), Durham Book Festival event
In conversation with Sean O’Brien, chaired by Caroline Beck
Saturday 31 October 2015, 2pm
Chaired by Alice Sharp (Invisible Dust) with Laura Harrington, Jeff Warburton (Durham University) and archeologist Rob Young.
This project was part of ‘Invisible Dust in Museums’
Invisible Dust is working with three Museum’s nationally: Manchester Museum (North West), Woodhorn Museum, Northumberland (North East) and the National Maritime Museum (London). It is supported by Arts Council England.
In 2014/15 we worked closely with our Guardian, BBC, University and science partners to support the creation of extraordinary artworks by artists connected to these Museums in addition to Laura Harrington this includes artists Elizabeth Price, Owl Project and Phil Coy.