The gharial, a large crocodile with a distinctive bulge on its snout, is critically endangered in the wild, with researchers counting only a few hundred individuals in 2017. Living primarily in the rivers of Nepal and India, the scaly reptiles saw a rapid decline since the 1930s due to overfishing and loss of habitats from sand mining and dams, and biologists estimate the population has dwindled to only two percent. Thanks to the National Chambal Sanctuary, though, which is home to a substantial group of gharial, the species is growing.
Photographer and conservationist Dhritiman Mukherjee visited the enclave southeast of New Dehli a few years ago where he captured striking images of a father swimming through the murky river with more than 100 young clinging to his back. Measuring 16 to 17 feet long, the male likely was carrying the offspring from 7 to 8 female gharials, which lay anywhere from 20 to 95 eggs each year. “Some breeding programs [and rerelease in the wild] have taken place in the Chambal. So, that’s why I selected the subject so that it gets attention from policymakers or concerned people,” Mukherjee told PetaPixel.
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A brilliant greenhouse suffused with a rich spectrum of color stands at 25 Porchester Place in London. Bathed in sunlight by day and illuminated by LED bulbs at night, the translucent structure is lined with a disorienting collage of Christian iconography and folkloric imagery: saintly figures sprout insect wings and wildlife occupies spaces usually dominated by humans in a melange of spiritual symbols.
Titled “Sacré blur,” the greenhouse is a 2015 project by horticultural artists Tony Heywood and Alison Condie, who originally created the piece to house psychedelic plants at the Oxford Botanic Gardens—this part of the project never materialized over fears that students might misuse the hallucinatory specimens. The intention for the sculpture revolved around the idea of sacred light, the foremost example being stained glass, and creating a transcendent space complete with a mirrored infinity floor. “We are gardeners,” Heywood shares with Colossal. “The greenhouse is an architect’s equivalent of a temple. It’s where life begins and the ritual of caring and nurture take place.”
The London-based pair, who work as Heywood & Condie, began by dismantling hundreds of panels, some of which dated back to the 18th and 19th centuries, and following the patterns and grisaille to splice new creatures. They then glued the layered works to the existing frame of a greenhouse. “The idea is nature transforming and using the stained glass as a medium to visit a (time) when we worshiped plants, insects, and animals, as opposed to the Christian line of thinking that humans are above animals, above everything,” Heywood says.
This connection to the earth alongside an interest in the broad reaches of spirituality influence the pair’s practice, particularly those relating to creation myths and about bringing new life into existence. “Church is about shifting our consciousness and making us think of where we lie in the world and likewise, whether it’s a psychedelic experience or a meditative experience, it’s about shifting our attention,” he shares. “Gardening is an act of creation.”
“Sacré blur” has been exhibited in multiple locations in recent years and will be at its current spot for the coming weeks. Heywood & Condie have a few works in progress at the moment, including an alphabetical labyrinth on a northwest U.K. beach and an obelisk collection mixing religious stained glass along with pieces from early pinball and gambling machines that will be on view at Vigo Gallery. You can also see their works as part of The Poetry of Trees, which opens at The Atkinson in Southport on June 4, and on June 11, a series of jewel-encrusted marine microorganisms will float across The Water Gardens at Marble Arch in London. (via Steampunk Tendencies)
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Whether it’s to advance your career or try something new, SVACE offers more than 230 online and in-person offerings to choose from. Visit sva.edu/ce to view the courses, which begin on June 6.
Online and in-person courses are available in:
- Art & Activism
- Fine Arts
- Global Arts
- Illustration and Cartooning
- Interior Design
- Photography and Video
- Professional Development
- Visual and Critical Studies
- Visible Futures Lab
- Visual Narrative
If you need advice or have questions, please email [email protected] to connect with one of our course advisors.
About the School of Visual Arts
School of Visual Arts has been a leader in the education of artists, designers, and creative professionals for seven decades. With a faculty of distinguished working professionals, a dynamic curriculum, and an emphasis on critical thinking, SVA is a catalyst for innovation and social responsibility. Comprising 6,000 students at its Manhattan campus and 35,000 alumni in 100 countries, SVA also represents one of the most influential artistic communities in the world. For information about the College please visit sva.edu.
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Six Years In the Making, the Elaborate ‘Grand Jardin’ by Lisa Nilsson Pushes the Boundaries of Paper
Lisa Nilsson (previously) has spent years perfecting a technique known as quilling in which thin strips of paper are rolled into coils and then pinched and nudged into shape in a process she likens to completing a puzzle. With a history thought to extend back to Ancient Egypt, the practice rose to more recent popularity in 18th century Europe. Narrow edges of gilt book pages were a popular material, creating metallic surfaces when rolled into place. In her most recent work, “Grand Jardin,” Nilsson has expanded upon this traditional method by building up more dense applications of the medium and assembling on a much bigger scale. Combining shimmering gold pieces with vivid hues of Japanese mulberry paper across the surface, the ubiquitous material transforms into a remarkable topography.
Taking several years to complete, she paid painstaking attention to the complexities and details of the design, balancing intricate organic shapes with precise geometric patterns, all while preserving the composition’s overall symmetry. “The phases of my creative process—as it progressed from the initial spark of inspiration to settling in to work, to decision-making and problem solving, to finding flow, losing flow and finding it again, to commitment and renewal of commitment—were repeated many times over the six years and within the context of widely varying moods,” she tells Colossal.
Brimming with floral motifs and butterflies and contained within an ornate border, the lush details of “Grand Jardin” emerge in the textures of each group of coils and in the intricate shapes of the flowers and foliage. Inspired by the patterns and process of making Persian rugs, Nilsson sees parallels between weaving and quilling, and is amused by the nature of improvisation in a process that is so slow-moving and meticulous. “Having a working relationship with one piece for such a long period of time brought novel thoughts and emotions and required new things of me as an artist and as a person,” she says.
You can find more information on Nilsson’s website.
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Housing the largest aircraft and missile facility around the globe, the Davis-Monthan Air Force Base in Tucson is a trove of aviation history. The Arizona boneyard is responsible for nearly 4,000 vehicles that are maintained, recycled for parts, and stored across miles of the dry, desert landscape. Photographer Bernhard Lang (previously) visited the site recently to document the aircraft, which are organized in neat rows and grouped by model. Containing both rusted and disassembled machines and those in pristine condition, the boneyard is designed for preservation “in order to make (the planes) airworthy again if necessary, a current topic in times of the Ukraine war and the global discussion about deliveries of arms,” Lang says.
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Laetitia Ky exercises art activism by braiding African identity into hair sculpture. Born from the lack of representation she experienced growing up on the Ivory Coast, her practice started by cutting the silky straight strands off of her Barbie doll heads and meticulously re-stitching curly extensions as a child. In Love and Justice, Ky’s towering sculptures are embedded into aspects of everyday life. She draws on the strength and durability of Black hair texture to weave traditional instruments, regional wildlife, and bodies in motion into interactive portraits that capture the beauty in common aspects of culture across the continent.
Each image in this 200-page collection published by Princeton Architectural Press makes a statement. Ky explores the roots of this work through the creative shape and design of traditional African hairstyles pre-colonialism. She uses symbols in her sculptures to respond to current struggles like a justice scale balancing gender icons on either side, a uterus with fallopian tubes that transform into middle fingers, or stretch marks on a woman’s body. In her self-love chapter, Ky’s images explore the joys of self-knowledge with acts such as playing a guitar made of hair, toasting a braided wine glass, or wrapping her neck with a life-sized hand that offers the scent of a flower.
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Editor's Picks: Craft
Highlights below. For the full collection click here.