lauren booth at great hollow
July 31 – September 10 2016
Inaugural Hike on July 31 from 10am-12pm
the harts gallery announces a series of site-specific outdoor installations by Lauren Booth at the Great Hollow Nature Preserve. Great Hollow is an 825-acre land preserve on the borders of Sherman and New Fairfield, Connecticut, containing 6 miles of hiking trails, wetlands, streams and forest, open to the public from dawn until dusk. Lauren Booth's works will be on exhibit at Great Hollow from July 31 through September 10, with an inaugural guided hike to the works on July 31 at 10am, departing from main house at Great Hollow, 225 Connecticut 37, New Fairfield, CT 06812.
For her work at Great Hollow, Booth draws inspiration from the beauty and magic of nature, pagan rites, as well as the multiple relationships, both real and imagined, brought forth from interactions with her work, between humans, animals and non-physical beings.
An interview with Lauren Booth about her work at Great Hollow follows. The interview was conducted by Carmen Elsa Lopez Abramson, Founder & Director of the harts gallery, on July 10.
Your work is made for human interaction; in Queequeg our own reflections in the mirrors separate us from the surrounding landscape, and in 4 Square Diamond the landscape morphs as seen through the resin. How does the concept of interactive art or experiential art dominate the design of your work?
Just as “no man is an island”, artwork also exists as part of a network. The connection that occurs between the person or people viewing the work is vital. Art exists in space and time and requires interaction with people. In your example of Queequeg the work is activated by both the movement of a person within the space of the sculpture as well as the reflections of oneself within the landscape. In the example of 4 Square Diamond, the different colored resin squares create a filter so it’s like looking at the world through colored glasses as well as playing with the idea of trail blazing.
Queequeg follows the structure of a five-pointed star. What is the meaning of this symbol to you? An homage to our pagan ancestors?
I really like 5 pointed stars. They are strong, fun to draw and have both magical and celestial connotations. And yes, I am referencing paganism with this piece, although I hadn’t purposefully used a star for that reason. Queequeg is a character in Moby Dick. He is repeatedly called “savage” but he turns peoples preconceived ideas upside down as he proves to actually a very connected and enlightened character.
The Greeks believed that mythology came from the Gods and the muses; inspiration meant the artist would go into ecstasy and would be transported beyond her own mind and given the gods' or goddesses' own thoughts to embody. Interestingly, Drops of Light was inspired by the unseen beings that visit the stream the piece is installed along. Do you go through a process of meditation before conceptualizing any of your work?
I love that idea of inspiration coming from a higher place. The Greeks thought big. This piece began at the end of a wonderful hike discovering some of Great Hollows' trails. Towards the end of the hike we came upon this bridge and it was such a beautiful spot we all stopped to take it in. Evan Abramson [of the harts gallery] had the idea to place a sculpture relating to the stream and after he mentioned it I couldn’t get it out of my head. I went back to the stream with 21 six-foot tall triangular Lucite rods that had been embedded in logs. I wanted something to draw your eye down stream to make you want to stop and look at the river and listen to the sound a little bit longer. As we were installing the work and I sat contemplating the stream, the idea came to me that there may be other things that we can not see here in the same way that many people walking across this bridge may not see these little beams of light.
Do you design your work based on the environment where it's going to reside? Can you tell us about the process of conception and realization of your sculptures?
I am very influenced by the place in which a piece will live or be exhibited. In this case, we began by walking the trails and meditating on the nature at Great Hollow. I returned time and again to the preserve to consider the space. I was obsessed with putting a neon in the apple cave from the first time I saw it. Five of the sculptures were created for this show and they highlight different aspects of the nature preserve. I made all of the new work from my studio in Roxbury in late spring of this year.
How do you describe your work for someone who has not seen it?
Not very well.
How does the natural environment where the art piece will reside communicate with the sculpture during the conception phase?
We touched on this earlier when I was describing discovering Great Hollow and considering this space. I wanted to put the tulips on a forested path for example as a way to have an unexpected pop of color through the dappled light. For Love is in the Air, I added the resin colored discs to the steel outline as i imagined it hanging high above the ground within the old zip line structure. Or in the case of Drops of Light, the work was created along the stream specifically with that space in mind. This is not to say the work can’t exist in a different environment, in fact I think it’s important that it can and does.
And when creating a sculpture for a home, how do the design elements of the home affect the art piece?
I have had a steady stream of commissions nearly 15 years. I really enjoy the process of co-creating with a client. It is not just the environment of their home which is considered when we are creating a piece, it’s the personalities of the people, their likes and dislikes, the dynamics of the house hold, color choices, and dimensions. A neon commission often includes handwriting. So, all of these things need to come into play whether the work is being created for a home or an outdoor space such as Great Hollow Nature Preserve.
You have an exceptional collection of contemporary art including the work by Sol Lewitt and Richard Serra. How has living with this caliber of art made by these Masters influenced your own work?
My husband and I both enjoy contemporary art. He has an excellent eye. It is my ambition that my work, whether its being shown in my own home or that of a collectors or a public collection, I aspire for my work to hold it’s own amongst these great artists. In the case of Great Hollow, nature is the master. So, the work there aspires to hold it’s own amongst that grandeur and potentially enhance that experience and connection.
From a gallerist perspective, the most interesting artists and collectors I meet are the bold ones with confidence and courage to look at art from within, rather than listening to the nays and nods from the art world. I would definitely put you in that category! How does the criteria you use as a collector compare with your criteria as an artist?
My experience as a collector is very much connected to Mark and our journey together. Art is something that we share, enjoy and are moved by. My work is influenced by the work that I am fortunate to live with. I work daily from my studio and it is a practice which requires spaced repetition and contemplation. I think the experiences are different. One is looking out and the other is looking in.
A native of Northern California, Lauren Booth lived and worked in London and Australia before moving to northwest Connecticut with her family. Much of her work is about turning inward, paying attention to the dreams and thoughts that arise in meditation. In 2015, Booth transformed The Lab at the Mattatuck Museum into an immersive, reflective space for the installation of The Illumination Show, a series of neon sculptures created in collaboration with His Holiness the Dalai Lama, Thich Nhat Hanh, Bono, Bill Clinton and Oprah Winfrey, among other celebrities and world leaders. Solo exhibitions of her work have been presented at iThe Mattatauk Museum, Waterbury; Westbourne Studios Courtyard, London; and Etienne Ozeki, London; group shows include the harts gallery, New Milford; Bedales Gallery, London; and Hortensia Gallery, London. Booth’s work is featured in the Rothschild Collection at Windmill Hill and the Mattatuck Museum, as well as distinguished collections around the world.