CLOUD WATCHING TANK

Resting against Newtown Castle watching the clouds, I turned to my friend and asked, “how can I frame the sky?” As a picture framer, I’m often wondering how can I capture an object in its entirety—form, history, sentimental attachment—and present it in a design that’ll remain stagnant for the rest of time.

The project prompt: Clouds. 

Dynamic, restless, distant and intangible—I wondered how I could design for the feeling of observing the sublime.

I decided to create a frame that would embody the viewer rather than the subject, resulting in a machine that functions as a meditative, observation device. Made of repurposed steel and fabric, the sculpture requires activation on behalf of the viewer, offering participants a space to isolate themselves and focus on watching nature unfold. 

The stand feature provides users with an easy place to store phones while they watch. Out of sight, out of mind.

The cloud watching tank was first displayed in an open patch of grass at the Burren School of Art. While critiquing the piece I led a meditation session focused on cloud-watching while one person tested the device. She found that not only did the isolation curtains allow her privacy during meditation, they also protected her eyes from the sun glare so she was able to see the sky easier! (Note the many cloud-watchers outside of the tank using their hands for shade).

GROUND WATCHING TANK

I created this series at an ecology program in County Clare, Ireland in an area famously known as the Burren.

The Burren—the name meaning a place of stone—is an unique piece of land covered in limestone. Shaped by tectonic forces 190 million years ago, the limestone is carved by grykes (deep fissures that separate the stone), which are remarkably straight. The Burren is also renowned for its biodiversity. It houses 70% percent of Ireland’s 900 native plants species, including 25 wild orchid species and plants from as far as the Arctic and the Mediterranean.

Prompted to make a sister companion to the Cloud Watching Tank and inspired by the complexity of the ground in the area, I created the Ground Watching Tank. Functionally similar to the Cloud Watching Tank, this sculpture allows users to isolate themselves and focus on nature. With the opening angled downwards rather than towards the sky, users are encouraged to meditate on the intricacies of the physical earth.