A&H Digital Winter Commission

Each year A&H commissions an artist to create a digital project to end the year.

2023’s winter commission comes from Olana Light, a multidisciplinary artist based in Hampshire: “The Gypsum Spirit of the Thornborough Henges”.

After considering many Neolithic sites across the country, Light chose to make her performance to camera at Thornborough Henges, North Yorkshire. This atmospheric cluster of monuments is located above the river Ure and was installed around 4,500 years ago. The site consists of three circular henges, each surrounded by earthen banks, which are thought to be part of a ritual landscape. People have gathered, many traveling some distance, at the henges for ceremonies and funeral rituals for at least 2,000 years. The earthworks form part of the most important concentration of Neolithic monuments in the North of England and are looked after by English Heritage.

Evidence also suggests that Thornborogh Henges may at one point have been covered in a locally mined mineral called gypsum which would have glowed a striking brilliant white, potentially visible for miles around. For the A&H 2023 Winter Digital Commission, Olana Light explores the lost heritage of this landscape through reimagining this phenomenon in the present day. Her speculations about this mineral manifests in the form of a ‘Gypsum Spirit’; Light herself performing in a series of wearable sculptures made from and referencing the mineral. The artist has devised her own rituals at Thornborough’s southern henge at the cusp of the 2023 Winter Solstice.

About the artist:

Olana Light is a multidisciplinary artist based in Hampshire. Light’s practice moves between sculpture, performance, and film and reflects the multiplicities of identity and a never-ending pursuit of belonging. She makes eco-based, immersive, otherworldly installations and wearable sculptures which are the mythic representation of her worldview. Nature is a source of inspiration for her; she wants to inspire us to build an unimagined future world, to live in harmony with nature, and to make the world a better place for those around us and who come after us.

Olana Light has exhibited her work nationally and internationally. Recent solo exhibitions include:

Fly Like a Butterfly, Making Space, Havant; Let it Breathe, Hidden Wardrobe, ‘a space’ arts, Southampton; out I side I in, The Smallest Gallery, Soho; We Are Not Ourselves, The Stone Space, and Jeannie Avent Gallery, London.

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Arts&Heritage (A&H) is delighted that Hanan Issa, National Poet of Wales has developed a new prose poem for the A&H Digital Winter Commission 2022. Hanan Issa is a Welsh-Iraqi poet, filmmaker, and artist. Her publications include her poetry collection My Body Can House Two Hearts and Welsh Plural: Essays on the Future of Wales. Issa is the 2022 Hay International Fellow. 

Hanan Issa’s writing for A&H reflects on the our shifting seasons – a long autumn finally leading to the frost of full winter; nature’s cyclical withdrawal and what we do to keep the darkness at bay. The artist also reads her work in an accompanying audio recording and has contributed to a Q&A on her extensive writing and editing with A&H Director of Projects Marie-Anne McQuay. 

Hanan Issa’s writing has been illustrated by illustrator and designer Kohenoor Kamal with a Welsh translation by poet, essayist and editor Grug Muse.

You can find out more about the project, download a PDF version, and listen to the spoken word version on its project page here.

In 2021 our winter commission was from artist Lindsey Mendick: Holly Man. Resplendent with molluscs and here to wish you a relaxing holiday this sculpture is emblematic of Mendick’s style and the narrative she weaves into her work.

About the artist:

Lindsey Mendick is based in Margate and was commissioned by the National Trust as part of Arts&Heritage’s Meeting Point programme. Her practice does not confine itself: Lindsey works in clay, paint, performance, drawing and often collaborates. For her response to Washington Old Hall she collaborated with Dominic Watson, and their workWassa can be seen when the Hall when it re-opens in Spring 2022.

We were delighted to select Alice Pool, an artist who presented a beautifully seasonal and atmospheric animation, ‘Fluorescent’, which you can watch above.

About the artist:

Alice is an Artist from Sheffield, currently living in Glaslow. She studied at the Glasgow School of Art and graduated in 2020, wiht a First Class BA (Hons).

“My current practice uses digital animation, I generate 3D computer images, and with these I hope to share an imagined experience. My art is driven by a desire to speculate on the way the world moves and how it feels to move within it. I build emotional and poetic worlds in the digital to provoke thoughts on the nature of hybrid realities. My work seeks to make intimate and minor gestures that cross private and shared space to live between the imagined, the half remembered, the real and the virtual.” – Alice Pool

You can find out more about Alice and her work via her website or instagram.