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Studio Swine creates a 20-tonne ceramic sculpture that blows smoke rings for the Eden Project


Studio Swine: ∞ Blue

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.