Chris Drury

  • Vortices

  • Dust to Dust

    Dust to Dust
  • Carbon Sink

    Carbon Sink
  • Vortices
  • Dust to Dust
  • Carbon Sink

My work seeks to make connections between different phenomena in the world, specifically between:

All of my works, over the past 25 years have been concerned with these connections. This is what unites the whole body of work. I do not have a particular style, nor do I prefer one material or process over another, rather I will seek the most appropriate means and material to find, and make explicit, those connections.

To this end I collaborate with scientists and technicians from a broad spectrum of disciplines and technology. This may mean that one exhibition or work outside may look very different to another. Each work starts from zero and breaks new ground. Its starting point is the place and/or the situation. My work therefore is a continuing dialogue with the world, exploring our place in the universe.

Starting Points: An Experience of Landscape

From early in my career I have walked and spent time in the so called ‘wild’ places on the planet. This has given me a bedrock of experience from which I continue to draw inspiration for all aspects of my work.

My first long walk was in the Canadian Rockies with Hamish Fulton in 1975. I began to make small interventions in the landscape during these walks: a shelter made from materials to hand as a way of exploring how we dwell in the land; or a cairn built fast as a way of marking a remarkable place at an extraordinary time. Materials from these places would be placed in the rucksack and later made into baskets or small bundles. Works made from these experiences are essentially photographic. These early interventions have taught me how to use simple, local materials which can give rise to large structures, made cheaply and simply with a minimum CO2 footprint. Shelters later became cloud chambers and baskets, woven architectural structures.

Today, when I walk, I tend to leave these landscapes untouched. Instead I use photographs, video, maps, earth pigment and satellite images to make works from the experience, after the event. I may also work with scientists and clinicians to make links to other areas in the microcosm. My two months spent in Antarctica (2006-7) act as a kind of absolute or benchmark, with which to compare and contrast other phenomena.

Featured artwork

25 Jan - 04 Feb 2011: Installation of 3 pieces at the Pori Museum of Art, Finland for the show ECO-ART, curated by John Grande, Peter Selz and Pia Hovi Assad. The Eco-art show runs until 29 May 2011.

Wind Vortices, Sky Blu, Antarctica 2007, Chris Drury

Sky Blu is an oil depot for refuelling planes taking scientists deeper into Antarctica. The site for the depot was chosen because prevailing winds, which are forced into vortices by the nearby Nunatacs (the tips of mountains protruding from the ice sheets), scour the ice of snow, creating a blue ice surface all year. Because of this the large Dash 7 aircraft can land on the ice, on wheels, with a cargo of 20 oil drums.

My intention was to make a very large drawing of the wind, using a skidoo on fresh snow. The drawing was made on a map, then re-plotted in a computer and transferred to a GPS. The GPS was taped to the handlebars of the skidoo, and once the satellites had picked up my position, all I had to do was keep the arrow on the line of the drawing on the screen, and follow it through to the end.

To make all this happen, I needed a set of unlikely conditions: a fresh fall of snow, followed by a clear sunny day with no wind and no planes landing, as the skidoos would not then be available. Because Princes Anne was visiting the main Base, all flights were cancelled. There was a big blizzard with lots of snow followed by a day of fine weather, so I grabbed a skidoo, the GPS, a radio and cameras and I was in business. The line of the drawing is about 3 km long, and I had to make the big spiral smaller as I found myself getting rather close to a crevassed area. Afterwards, I parked the skidoo and climbed the side of the Nunatac to take the photos. By the following day the drawing had gone with the wind.

Dust to Dust, Ashes to Ashes

A mushroom spore print painted directly onto the wall using dust from the ventilation ducts and ashes from birch logs used for heating a sauna. Dimensions: 3m diameter.

Carbon Sink

Made from birch logs, branches, twigs and charcoal sticks, the work is a vortex of logs laid on the floor 8m in diameter.

On the first day the temperature outside was - 22 degrees and Errki and I headed out to a forest school 25 K. away to select the logs for Carbon Sink which were delivered later that day. Two of us, Veijo and myself laid the piece in 6 days. The print, in 10 sections, was hung by professionals and two artists painstakingly painted the spore print, which was projected on an overhead projector. It took them four days.

For more information on Chris Drury’s work:

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