Several years ago, I met Alec Finlay for a spot of lunch at The Cluny in the Ouseburn Valley.
By that stage, we had already worked on several projects together. Through our collaborations, I was gaining insights into Alec’s mind, insights that were already enhancing my outlook on the world around me.
We sat outside on a lovely, relaxed sunny afternoon. Around us, the colours of Spring were springing and above us, the blue sky…
Ah yes, the blue sky.
That’s what Alec wanted to discuss — the colour of the blue sky.
What colour is it? Could I use my understanding of digital colour and technical skills to somehow translate what’s up there into some glorious new colour wheel down here?
As it happened, yes I could and that idea manifested itself as sky-wheel.
Later, we would also make apple-wheel together, a piece that would form part of Alec’s shortlist exhibition for the Northern Art Prize:
On his skying blog, Alec describes the thinking behind sky-wheel in more detail:
This sky-wheel is a record of the colour of the sky, representative of a coastal location in North East England. It is…a work that appears to be scientific but is in fact entirely subjective.
While the sky-wheel does not meet any scientific criteria…his (Jack’s) role was as a mediator, between the technology of the digital camera, which produced the sky samples we used, and the technology of the digital ink-jet printer, which produced the final artwork.
The outer ring of the sky-wheel records a colour for every day, specified from a digital photograph of the sky. The camera is in a fixed position on the roof of NaREC (Blyth), pointing directly overhead and taking photographs at four hourly intervals during daylight hours. The calendar ran from midsummer day 2007 to midsummer eve 2008.
The outer ring shows the 365 days.
The second ring records a colour for every week; an amalgam of the seven colours for the individual days during this time period.
The third ring records a colour for every month; an amalgam of the four colours for the individual weeks during this time period.
The penultimate ring records a colour for each season; an amalgam of the three colours for the individual months during this time period.
The inner circle of the sky-wheel is a composite colour representing the entire year; this was created by amalgamating every other colour specification that appears in the colour wheel.
Below are photographs of the camera I rigged to capture the sky every four hours for a year from midsummer day 2007 to midsummer eve 2008.
The Canon SLR was controlled by an Intervalometer, all neatly encapsulated within a waterproof housing. I managed to feed a mains power lead from the camera, through the housing and attach it to an external power supply on the roof.
Every couple of weeks, I travelled to Blyth to swap the memory cards over and collect the images it had captured:
Ahead of tomorrow’s award ceremony for the Northern Art Prize, I wish Alec Finlay the very best of luck—I’ll be there in body and spirit!
Alec, a long-standing client of Jack Lowe Studio, is one of the four shortlisted nominees.
A piece within his nominated body of work is a collaboration between the two of us, ‘Apple Wheel‘. The print I made looks perfectly splendid in the show alongside his other work…
As a reminder, you may like to spend a moment or two reading these three previous posts from 2010:
A collaboration between the two of us, ‘Apple Wheel’, forms one of his show-pieces.
I also particularly enjoyed ‘Mesostic Remedy, 2008′—Alec is a man after my own heart when it comes to detail and finishing…
It was fantastic to see the print I made for the show—a special one metre wide version—nestled among the other entries and so generously credited to the two of us.
The print, made on Hahnemühle Photo Rag 308gsm with HP’s DJz3200, caught many an eye.
Congratulations once again, Alec, and we look forward to January for the announcement of the winner. Good luck!
The exhibition runs until February, so do make the time to visit if you can…
Another collaboration to add to the heritage of Alec Finlay and Jack Lowe—Apple Wheel.
A collection of fifty native British apples gathered into the digital world, sampled and juxtaposed into this beautiful, graphic piece. Lovely on screen and glorious as an A1 Archival Pigment print on Hahnemühle Photo Rag 308gsm with HP’s Vivera Pigment ink-set.
Congratulations to Alec, too, on being shortlisted for the Northern Art Prize 2010.
sky-wheels by Alec Finlay can currently be viewed at The Hatton Gallery here in Newcastle upon Tyne. I collaborated with Alec during this project for a year throughout 2007/2008 making a piece we know as ‘sky-wheel’ – I set up a camera pointing at the Northumberland sky for 365 days in a waterproof housing to capture it’s varying shades of blues and greys, samples from which form the final piece. As Alec writes on his site:
“This wheel refers to the day, week, month, season and year, with the final amalgamated year colour being completed on midsummer’s day 2008.”