Artist Kelly Richardson has spent three years imagining a world at one remove from our own, working with digital imaging software to create a vision of the near future. In each of her works, we encounter millions of glistening crystals that have somehow encrusted every square inch of the planet’s surface. The artist pushes the limits of what our eyes can register, the mind can conceive of, and the most high-tech computers can calculate. Each crystal has been ‘sculpted’in three dimensions, so that in each work, there is one crystal for every extant species on Earth. ‘Pillars of Dawn’ presents us with what seems to be the dusk of humanity ̶the sixth great extinction ̶where only the hardiest of trees seem to survive. These are akin to photographs outside of time: from either the Earth’s earliest days or humanity’s final hour, acting as documents of nuclear conflagration or environmental depredation.
The artist reveals the body of work across three exhibitions at opposite ends of the country. The third is presented in what The Guardian calls “the best surviving example of English baroque architecture”: Sir John Vanbrugh’s Seaton Delaval Hall. Partially destroyed by fire in 1822, and acquired by the National Trust in 2009, the central block is roofed but left bare as a half-ruin. In the breathtaking Saloon, some fifty feet wide and sixty feet high, Richardson presents a vision of what our collective future may yet hold.