Polly Gould at Danielle Arnaud Venice

Different Paths from Sky to Ground: The Sea Stories

16 April to 24 November 2024

Mer de Glace: The Alpine Club 2024

Mer de Glace: The Alpine Club 2024
anaglyphic giclée print

Yet the power of Nature cannot be shortened by the folly, nor her beauty altogether saddened by the misery, of man. The broad tides still ebb and flow brightly about the island of the dead, and the linked conclave of the Alps know no decline from their old pre-eminence, nor stoop from their golden thrones in the circle of the horizon. So lovely is the scene still, in spite of all its injuries, that we shall find ourselves drawn there again and again at evening out of the narrow canals and streets of the city, to watch the wreaths of the sea-mists weaving themselves like mourning veils around the mountains far away, and listen to the green waves as they fret and sigh along the cemetery shore.

John Ruskin, Stones of Venice, Vol 2, The Sea Stories, Murano, p.2, 1851-53.

The above quote from John Ruskin describes the mountains of the Alps as seen from Murano and was written between 1851-53 during the nineteenth century when the glass furnaces of Murano were the world centre of glass bead production. Women of Venice Known as impiraresse, worked as bead threaders to gather the beads into tradable and transportable strands. These glass beads were exported in great quantities across the globe as trading beads. Although production of seed beads ceased in Venice in the early 21st century they can still be bought from the remaining stocks in warehouses in Murano. The associated endangered skill of the impiraresse was recently recognised as an Intangible Cultural Heritage by UNESCO. A similar reassessment of heritage knowledge can be seen in the work of architects and town planners who are now imagining the reinstatement of Venice's cisterns to address the future of water sustainability; having understood the structure of the built environment of Venice as an ancient rain harvesting system. In Ruskin's life and through his enthusiasms, the Alps are linked to Venice. Ruskin's The Stones of Venice: The Sea Stories explores and imagines all the multiple ways in which the history of Venice is connected to the sea. Glaciers such as his favourite Mer de Glace or Sea of Ice in the French Alps gave Ruskin scope to consider water in its frozen forms. In 1854, Ruskin made an early daguerreotype photo with John Hobbs in Chamonix, of the Mer de Glace in the Mont Blanc Massif. The frozen waters of this glacier have retreated significantly in the 170 years since Ruskin made his daguerreotype, which now serves as a document of the Anthropocene.

Different Paths from Sky to Ground explores the water cycle and the patterns of connections between falling snow on glaciers of the Alps to the waters of Venice: its drinking water and its lagoon. The crystalline form of ice and the geometries of the historic and now redundant rainwater cisterns in the city's squares provide the shapes of the sculptural works. formed by glass seed beads - conterie - threaded on wires. The title phrase Different Paths from Sky to Ground is taken from the explanation of why each snowflake is different from every other: It is the pathway of the fall of the developing snow crystal that influences the variation in form, yet every snow crystal is structured as a hexagon due to the crystallization of water molecules. Ruskin's image of the sea of ice is here remade as an anaglyphic giclée print. Two stretched overlapping perspectives are separated into red and cyan and appears three dimensional when viewed with bi-colour lenses. The same image is printed as a Risograph multiple in two tone acqua and orange on Alga Carta paper, an historic ecological paper first developed in the 1990s that is manufactured from the excessively proliferating algae from the Venice Lagoon.

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For more information, please contact Danielle Arnaud at danielle@daniellearnaud.com for further details.