Inspired by changing geological and biological forms in the natural world, artist John Grade’s latest work sees rainfall as a celestial installation. By Aarti Mohan
Suspended above a clearing in a grove of pine trees in the Arte Sella Sculpture Park in Borgo Valsugana, Italy, the Reservoir is made up of 5000 individually heat-formed, clear droplets framed in steam-bent wood. The delicate droplets are attached to a pair of clear filament nets that are supported by tree trunks above. As rainwater or snow accumulates in the droplets, the position and shape of the nets lower and change. As collected water evaporates, the sculpture rises back to its original configuration. Sheathed springs below pulleys limit the vertical range of motion so the sculpture remains at least ten feet above the ground. Even a very light rain creates enough downward movement to be comprehended visually by viewers below. When dry, the sculpture weighs 70 pounds. When filled by heavy rainfall, the sculpture can exceed 800 pounds.
Reservoir is made up of 5000 heat-formed plastic parts wrapped around steam-bent strips of Alaskan yellow cedar. Each droplet is attached to a pair of marine nets with fish line. The nets have been seamed to create a fluted tapering upper form and a larger cupped form below. The nets have 2′ center stainless steel rings that maintain the tension between their centers and supporting tree trunks above. Sheathed springs on the tree trunks allow the lower net to incrementally sink 12 feet as water weight accumulates in the droplets and then gradually rise as the water evaporates.
Man-made movement also affects the sculpture’s appearance. Grade collaborated with Italian dance artist Andrea Rampazzo to choreograph an interactive performance. During the exhibition, four dancers moved around the sculpture, pulling and releasing each tree line to create varied movements in the artwork. The varied topography surrounding the site of the sculpture offers viewers both a vantage directly below the cloud-like mass as well as a view looking across the mid-line of the sculpture slightly above its changing centre of mass.
Artwork technical details:
Name: Reservoir (Ascesa),
Location: Arte Sella Sculpture Park, Malga Costa, Borgo Valsugana, Trento, Italy. 2018.
Materials used: Vacuum-formed plastic, wood, netting, cables, springs.
Dimensions variable: Upper net 8’ 6”H x 18’ 6” x 17’ (mounted 42’ above the ground), lower net 8’H x 28’ 6” x 24’ 6”.