The piece explores ephemeral materials in a new setting inspired by the Chinese water garden at night. Delicate mist-filled 'blossoms' disappear on contact with skin and can only be held by visitors wearing special gloves. Producing these blossoms is the installation's bold centrepiece: a tree-like sculpture placed within the surrounds of Raffles City Changning’s Bell Tower.
IN CONVERSATION WITH STUDIO SWINE
New Spring has now travelled to three major cities internationally: Milan, Miami and now Shanghai. Each place has had its own distinct character and aesthetic. What influence has Shanghai had on the work and what do you think of the city? Do you know it well?
We lived in Shanghai for six months to create our Hair Highway project. It’s a city we love for its gardens and feeling of historic glamour. Something that we particularly like is the traditional water gardens Yuyuan and the other nearby river towns of Suzhou. That was something we wanted to draw out of the work, the reflected world of the water garden at night. We like taking walks at night, when the bustle of the city has past and the environment takes on a more sensory experience, where you can appreciate the environment of the city, the light on the surface of the river, the feel of breeze, that’s the type of space that we would like to create with New Spring.
This is also the first time New Spring has been exhibited in Asia. Has this inspired this iteration of the work in any way creatively? Are there any Chinese influences or local influences that can be seen here?
New Spring is about the universal, it’s a very simple, minimal work that means it can be interpreted in many ways. As is the case with the universal: it finds relevance and resonates with a great deal of situations which for us is the joy of showing it in various cities. For example, in Milan it took on an Italian feeling of fountains, classical arches and chandeliers. In Miami it was like the mangrove swamps and the art deco of South beach.
In Shanghai New Spring takes on the character of the city, it becomes the willow tree in the Chinese garden, the glamour of art deco of the Bund. The bubbles are reminiscent of magnolia flowers, pearls or small descending full moons.
This time around, the film capturing New Spring in its latest surroundings features pools of water. Can you tell us about the inspiration behind this? How do the bubbles react differently to water as opposed to other elements and why?
The Water garden traditionally depicted with a willow tree overhanging water is something that resonates with the installation. We wanted to introduce a pool of water to create a reflective pool and create that sense of being outside. We also discovered the bubbles bounce on the surface of the water which was a delightful surprise and again creates this otherworldly experience.
What impact has the new setting of Raffles City Changning’s Bell Tower specifically had on the piece? How do you perceive the work differently in this space, compared with the locations chosen for Milan’s Salone del Mobile and Design Miami?
We wanted to create a darker space that was quite calming and a feeling of a garden at night within the city.
We chose a dark green for the space which is the first time we’ve used colour in New Spring. We love dark waxy green leaves and wanted to situate the white tree in that environment.
The first installation of New Spring was created with nature and the changing of seasons in mind, centred around a blossoming sculpture. Do you think showing in the autumn months will change the feel of the installation?
Previously we were showing in spring and drew a connection to the flowering of cherry blossom. Autumn is the ripening of the fruit. The seasons can inspire both a joy and melancholy, the appreciation and the awareness of nature and time.
As the poet Keats describes autumn ‘Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness’.
What do you hope visitors will take away from the installation?
We hope that people will engage with the work in a way that is very much a pure sensory experience, that feels both modern and timeless, a feeling beyond thought.
Studio Swine (Super Wide Inter-disciplinary New Explorers) is a collaboration between Japanese architect Azusa Murakami and British artist Alexander Groves. Exploring themes of regional identity and the future of resources in the context of globalisation, their work has gained an international audience having been exhibited at London’s Victoria & Albert Museum, the Pompidou Centre in Paris and the Venice Biennale.
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