‘Sienna’s World’ Anglesey Abbey
‘Christina’s World’ Andrew Wyeth

The black and white photograph of my granddaughter was taken at Anglesey Abbey in Cambridgeshire. The painting below, which many of you will be very familiar with, set in the coastal landscape of Maine was created by the American artist Andrew Wyeth. Wyeth’s painting is a penetrating psychological portrait and a vivid representation of the inner world of Christina Olson who, because of a muscle degenerative disease, was unable to walk. It is undoubtedly a powerful and memorable image. When I took the ‘shot’ of Sienna, she had just befriended a tiny snail on a leaf and was gingerly carrying it up the embankment; she had already given it a suitable name and was completely lost in her own imaginary world. When I looked at the photograph later, I immediately recognised the composition I had unwittingly borrowed. The house, the gradual incline, the perspective and the viewpoint. Of course the psychological drama was necessarily absent but it does reveal the extent to which we make aesthetic judgements based on our previous experience.

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I stumbled across this ready-made Christo in the grounds of Anglesey Abbey, near Cambridge. I think they would be delighted.

 

‘When Christo began to wrap objects in 1958, he used everyday objects such as shoes, telephones and empty paint cans to make his sculptures. Once wrapped, the objects would take on a new identity. By wrapping them, he would reveal some of the most basic features and proportions of the object by concealing the actual item. Christo and Jeanne-Claude later expanded this idea in projects such as The Pont Neuf Wrapped and the Wrapped Reichstag, but on a much larger scale. While the intricate details of the structures are hidden, the essence of the structures are revealed all the while making the imposing and solid structure seem airy and nomadic’.

‘The use of real fabric also gives the work a fragile, sensual and temporary character while wrapping objects is definitely an important part of their œuvre, Christo and Jeanne-Claude have done very few wrappings in comparison to their whole portfolio of artworks. It is easier for some to grasp the wrapping concept and refer to their artworks entirely as “wrapping,” but the work is more about altering an environment than wrapping – which is only one way to do that. The last time the artists had an idea for a wrapping was in 1975, when they had the idea of wrapping the Pont-Neuf in Paris, ten years before they realized the work of art.’

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