London-based design duo Studio Swine has created a large-scale ceramic sculpture for the Eden Project, inspired by a tiny photosynthesising microorganism called cyanobacteria. Weighing in at 20 tonnes and towering at 9m-tall, the curvaceous sculpture is thought to be the world’s largest ceramic artwork.
The “breathing” sculpture called ∞ Blue (Infinity Blue), features 32 cannons that fire out vapour rings scented with the “aromas of primordial worlds” from its surface in tribute the oxygenic photosynthesis process first developed by cyanobacteria three billion years ago. “In doing so, they changed the nature of our planet,” said Azusa Murakami and Alexander Groves of Studio Swine (Super Wide Interdisciplinary New Explorers). “In the same way that artists of the past would depict the sacred, our sculpture _∞ Blue_ gives physicality to the invisible elements our existence depends on; our breathable atmosphere, microbial life and deep time.”
The piece has been made from a deep blue clay and oxide glazes, a nod to the oxygen needed in the process as well as the local mining industry in Cornwall. Studio Swine developed a pattern for the ceramic surface using an algorithm inspired by reaction-diffusion systems found in creatures from coral to zebras.
The piece was commissioned by the Eden Project for its new permanent exhibition Invisible Worlds, which opens at the Cornish botanical gardens on 24 May. Located in the site’s distinctive glass biomes, Invisible Worlds tells the story of aspects of the planned that are undetectable to humans because they are too fast, too far away or (like cyanobacteria) too small.
Studio Swine was established by Japanese architect Azusa Murakami and British artist Alexander Groves and specialises in interdisciplinary installations that often experiment with new processes or unusual uses of materials. Its project Hair Highway created a range of luxury objects from discarded human hair, whereas Fordlandia was a collection of furniture made entirely from Amazonian rubber and other materials found in the rainforest. The project was inspired by a rubber factory and (now abandoned town) in the Amazon built by American industrialist Henry Ford in the late 1920s.
Like many of the duo’s projects, ∞ Blue will be accompanied by a film – an imaginative telling of the sculpture’s watery beginnings, directed by the artists in collaboration with Petr Krejčí.
- Louise Bonnet paints exaggerated bodies as symbols of melancholy and loneliness
- Mathieu Larone illustrates the "elusive liminal space between the cryptic and the understandable"
- Micaiah Carter interprets Uniqlo’s linen range with a sultry sun-drenched shoot
- We take a look back at the best stories of the year to date
- Atelier Brenda and Amélie Bakker create “squidgy” identity for Beursschouwburg
- Thomas Pratt photographs the effects of religion, natural disaster and globalisation on an island community
- Pornhub decides to try out beesexuality with new awareness campaign
- “The time just feels right”: Stuart Brumfitt and Mirko Borsche, editor and designer of The Face, on its relaunch
- Graphic designer Shao Nian's portfolio ranges from academic publishing to experimental magazines
- Daniel Gebhart de Koekkoek recreates the ingenious yet useless inventions of Chindōgu
- The Washington Post's climate change issue features 24 equally important covers
- Philip Gerald's lowbrow, crude paintings are a reflection of his views on the art world