The environment, the spirit and the other-worldliness of Antarctica is captured in the sculptural work of Virginia King in her exhibition Antarctic Heart, on from the 27 of April at te tuhi - the mark in Manukau City. The exhibition contains twenty-one suspended, iridescent and glowing, macrocarpa sculptures which are massed together in the darkened gallery. The sculptures slowly turn and change in hue and brightness, and seem to transport the visitor to the alien environment of the southernmost continent.
Virginia King visited Antarctica as part of the Artists to Antarctica Fellowship in 1999. She documented the landscape and visible environment on video and in photographs; however, the work that she developed grew from her interest in the invisible - the micro-organisms found in the sea ice and saline lakes of Antarctica. Helen Schamroth says ‘It was as if portraying the invisible might lead to the spiritual heart of the place.’ The sculptures in Antarctic Heart are based on the shapes and forms of these micro-organisms, known as diatoms. In the exhibition Helen Schamroth says ‘The diatoms are magnified to a size with which we can physically engage, their scale recontextualising their importance. The survival of life forms is the fundamental theme of the work...’
Sound, light and video images also play an important role in the experience of Antarctic Heart. Music by fellow Antarctic visitor, composer Chris Cree Jones and the sound of the indigenous Weddell Seals fill the gallery space. The sculptures are bathed in ultraviolet light, recalling the research that has been carried out by scientists on diatoms to determine its effect on the micro-organisms. A video contextualises the sculptural work by interspersing images of diatoms with that of the Antarctic landscape.
→ Virginia King: Antarctic Heart, 2002, publication
→ Virginia King: Antarctic Heart, 2002, exhibition card