This month at John Hansard – Rona Lee

This is an article I wrote for the Wessex Scene.

You may not have noticed it yet, but Highfield campus is home to one of the UK’s leading public galleries of temporary visual art. The current exhibit ‘That Oceanic Feeling’ by British artist Rona Lee explores our relationship with the deep sea. Her work was developed at the NOC.

Enter into a room surrounded on four sides by images of people imagining the ocean. Three stand with eyes shut tight, you may think they could be imagining anything, but look again and see the relaxation, our natural association with the mysterious mass of water. Beside sit chrome plated handfuls of silt brought up for 4000m below the surface.

Untitled IV Dr Huvenne

Carrying on through the exhibit the art is accompanied by music from a vinyl generated from geo-physical profile of underwater Mid Atlantic Ridge. It is surprisingly melodic thanks to Tim Olden and really adds to the atmosphere. Rona quotes a fact I’ve often heard, that is that we know less about the deep ocean than we do about the moon, this is evident throughout, the music adds the same eerie effect as a space movie, the same mystery and thirst for knowledge.

‘Sea / Draw (Ten Atlantic Days)’  Hangs on the western wall, at first glance I believed it to be ten blank canvases – exactly how I would imagine ten days at sea, but get closer and take a proper look, they are in fact ten reliefs cast from drawings created by hanging a pen on board the research ship. Studying them in order the viewer is drawn in to the story, giving the random scribbles a much greater meaning.

Three videos totalling about half an hour  loop in the remainder of the gallery. To me they expressed the vastness, the remoteness, the opportunity, they emphasise the harshness with which it can take or give life.

Globe with inverted sea levels

The exhibition subtly drew me in, and it was only when I exited out into campus, feet firmly on solid ground, that I realised just how engrossed I had become.

Rona’s Exhibit remains in Southampton until 13th October and she will be giving an artist’s talk tomorrow 27th at 6:30. The John Hansard Gallery opens Tue-Fri 10-5 and Sat 10-4. Admission is free!!!

Visit Rona’s site here. Or the John Hansard Gallery site here.

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