Keith Harrison by Dom Moore
Keith Harrison by Dom Moore

Bloom

by Keith Harrison

Bloom is a new, site-specific installation by Plymouth based artist Keith Harrison. Inspired by the sights and sounds of passing container ships and cruise liners viewed from the roof of God’s House Tower, the work is a continuation of the artist’s recent experiments with sound and matter.

Stacks of locally-sourced plastic storage boxes have been fitted with subwoofer drivers to create DIY speakers, contained in a custom-built steel and perspex structure, the same shape and size as a shipping container. A plastic curtain at the far end allows access to a turntable and mixing desk. Each time a ship leaves Southampton’s shores, a uniquely pressed vinyl record is played and the sound of foghorns, recorded on the roof of GHT, are amplified in the space. The vibration activates clouds of raw cactus powder on the surface of each speaker. The foghorn blows, the powder blooms.

Bloom responds to the theme of this year’s programme, GHT: Beside the Sea, which prompts us to consider how significant changes to the shoreline have shaped our modern city. Keith also took inspiration from The Moonlight Pethers, an exhibition of 17th century paintings currently on show in the Barker-Mill Collections Gallery downstairs.

One painting of particular interest is The Night-Blowing Cereus by Philip Reinagle and Abraham Pether, alternatively known asThe Night Blooming Cereus, the installation’s namesake. In the painting a large, blossoming cactus flower by Philip Reinagle is painted on top of a moonlight scene by Abraham Pether – the clock reads midnight. This striking image informed Keith’s methodology and choice of materials; the speakers represent the clock, activating the work at specific times of the day and the cactus powder represents the plant.

With thanks to the Henry Moore Foundation for their additional support for this exhibition.

See Bloom in its final performance HERE