Katie Paterson - First There is a Mountain

5 May 2019

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Glynn Vivian Art Gallery

Swansea, United Kingdom


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UK wide participatory artwork event taking place on Swansea Bay, Civic Centre. A Glynn Vivian Offsite event


Event takes place on Swansea Bay, Civic Centre

First There is a Mountain is a UK wide participatory artwork event, taking place over British Summer Time 2019, starting in Kent on 31 March and ending in Essex on 27 October.

The project will be visiting Swansea on Sunday 5 May, May Bank holiday weekend, and is the fourth stop on in the series of 25 coastal locations, the length of the UK.  

At each location, participants will use a specially designed set of 'buckets and spades' in the form of World Mountains, to sculpt beaches into thousands of miniature sand mountain ranges.

Each set includes a scale model of one of five of world's most famous mountains: Mount Kilimanjaro (Africa), Mount Shasta (USA), Mount Fuji (Asia), Stromboli (Europe), and Uluru (Oceania), are nested together.

Fifty sets of buckets and spades will be available to use on the day and the public's unique participation at each location is essential to the evolution of the artwork and the overall experience.

Twenty-five new pieces of writing have been commissioned to accompany the artwork's journey, one for each location. The texts will form a digital anthology, bringing together writing by celebrated authors, poets, geologists, earth scientists, ecologists, and art writers.

Swansea born art writer, Lizzie Lloyd, has been chosen to write a text for Swansea, which will be read aloud at the start of the event.

The Gallery will be looking for participants, Swansea residents and visitors to take part in a number of ways; as a volunteer and guide, as a mountain range builder or as spectator, of this truly unique and spectacular event. More information regarding how you can take part will be made available soon.

Katie Paterson says,"From early childhood we understand that sand marks time. 'First There is a Mountain'builds upon this concept, making us aware of the erosion of mountain rocks over millennia, rock shifting across Earth through the evolution of continents, forming unique fingerprints of sand across our modern coastline. The artwork invites people to slow down and consider the interconnectedness of the world, its immensity conveyed in miniature. Connecting the archipelago via one water, one tide, one sand - carrying mountains of sand across time. The extraordinary existing in ordinary things, everywhere."

Paterson selected the mountains using data from NASA's Shuttle Radar Topography Mission and the National Geospatial Intelligence Agency. The sand buckets are made from 100% fermented plant starch, fully bio-compostable, and at the end of the project they will be composted, absorbed back into the natural environment.

First There is a Mountain is a collaborative cross-disciplinary project, involving twenty-five arts venues around the UK coast, starting with Whitstable Biennale in Kent on 31 March and ending with Focal Point in Essex on 27 October.

Paterson's art enables us to engage with intangible and immense forces. Time, glaciation, growth, the solar system, fossilisation, electricity, and weather systems provide inspiration for her work, and she often uses sand as a cypher for time and infinitude in her practice. First There is a Mountaincontinues her enquiry into a recalibration of our understanding of space, time and place.

Production: Elizabeth Newell in collaboration with Siobhan Maguire at Katie Paterson Studio. First There is a Mountain is supported by the National Lottery through Creative Scotland and Arts Council England.

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Exhibiting artists

Katie Paterson


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