It was the small column in the Independent that made me want to look at Lucy and Jorge Orta’s work some more. The reference to water as an on going theme that is central to the ecological and sociological explorations of their practice made me curious to see how they worked with this theme. Water is central to the ideas I have been having with regard to my major project. I am keen to focus my work on the landscape of the Somerset Levels and have been considering how best to approach this. I found the video, Lucy Orta in conversation , about their current retrospective at the Yorkshire Sculpture park very illuminating about the thoughts and ideas that go into the work and the work itself. She spoke of a visit to a ‘recycling town’ near Cairo where 70,000 people live recycling waste and of the mountains of plastic water bottles- these bottles have become a core material in their work. She also spoke of the collaborative nature in the production of their work, and repeated several times that 120 people had worked together to make many of the ‘cloud’ pieces- I got the impression this collaboration was an important part of the work for her. Finding an entry point in whilst maintaining poetics is something she described as an ongoing challenge- how do you make the work accessible for the viewer? This is of course interesting for me as it is exactly what I am trying to do for my major project. She describes how they have started to use storytelling/narration/history in order to achieve this. One of the pieces at the exhibition is inspired by the painting, Raft of Medusa 1819 by T Gericault. I enjoyed hearing Lucy talk about the ‘Spirit’ series, figures created relating to stories of women and water spirits that add to the sense of meaning to place and emphasise the importance of the river as being central to people’s lives; these were made for a commission of work along the Huveaune River that starts in the massif of Sante Baume to the sea at Marseille, France.
Looking at their work has certainly made me think of the many approaches to thinking about water, but I also need to think about to translate this into painting- much of the Orta’s work is sculptural and installation. I am glad I have looked at their work.