THE artist behind a stunning new exhibition at Northern Gallery for Contemporary Art (NGCA) has revealed the processes behind his latest work.
Internationally-renowned artist and photographer Dan Holdsworth’s Continuous Topography exhibition opened last week, and another solo exhibition, Spatial Objects, will open at NGCA in January 2019.
Dan has made his name through creating large-scale photographs and digital art characterised by innovative use of traditional photography techniques and has dedicated the last five years to creating both exhibitions.
Continuous Topography, will be at NGCA until January 6, 2019 and is his first moving-image work, after 20 years of working with large format analogue cameras.
He explained why he moved away from static imagery: “I started making the first moving image works using 3D modelling and point cloud models of limestone rock formations in the Swiss Jura in 2014, and have been developing these new Continuous Topography works, from photographic aerial surveys. In that sense I haven’t moved away from the photographic images, and see the moving work as a natural extension of the still works.”
His new artwork has involved working in collaboration with academics, scientists and researchers: “I started working with the geology department at Northumbria University in 2011, and since 2014 I’ve been working closely with Geology PhD student Mark Allan. Over that time we have made several trips to the French and Swiss Alps to make photographic aerial surveys of mountains and glaciers using helicopters and drones.
“The process called ‘photogrammetry’ involves making a photographic survey of an area, taking hundreds of images. These photographs are then processed to create 3D models of the landscape and then I work with the models back in the studio to create the artworks, still and moving images.
“The intersection of art and science is something that I have explored in my work now for nearly two decades. The recent work has been more direct, collaborating with scientists has enabled me to work with new scientific tools but also just as important to this has been the conversations.
“I didn’t start out on this journey with an explicit objective, I had some ideas, but I had no end point in mind, I just had an intense curiosity to see what the possibilities would be of trying to work in these new ways, and along the way the work developed. In summary the most important thing I take away from the experience is the significance of the curious mind.”
Dan went on to explain the time and effort needed to research and complete his new exhibition: “The research for Continuous Topography started in 2014 with the first expedition to survey some of Mont Blanc’s glaciers around the Chamonix Valley. We spent seven weeks hiking around the Bossons, Argentiere, Bionnassay Glaciers. We created an enormous amount of data from these expeditions and I have been working since then to create the works you see in Continuous Topography.”
Curator Alistair Robinson said: “The first visitors to the exhibition have been astonished by these virtual landscapes, with one remarking, ‘The exhibition is incredibly beautiful – and moving, knowing that these landscapes are disappearing.’ “
While Continuous Topography is on a minute level, his second exhibition, Spatial Objects (January 18 – March 17, 2019) sees images blown up to a huge scale. Rendered in the colours of the RGB digital palette, Spatial Objects presents a series of individual works of a single pixel marking a GPS co-ordinate of the Crater Lake, a protected National Park in the western United States.
The NGCA, which moved into the ground floor of National Glass Centre earlier this year, is open daily between 10am and 5pm and entry is free.
Dan Holdsworth was born in Welwyn Garden City, but now lives and works in Newcastle. Galleries which have public collections of his work include Tate Gallery, London; the V&A, London; the Museum of Modern Art in Vienna and the DG Bank Collection in Munich.