What was the inspiration for Wellspring?
Wellspring is inspired by the elemental and seemingly mundane process of water, chalk, landscape, place and human activity made extraordinary. The springs have underpinned the industries and supply of water around Havant for centuries. They connect the South Downs to the sea and supply the whole of Portsmouth with fresh water. The name Havant can be translated as ‘Hama’s Spring’ referring to the Homewell Spring south-west of St Faith’s churchyard. Industries such as brewing, watercress growing, milling, tanning, parchment and glove making flourished because of the abundant water source. The majority of these springs lie hidden from view yet they provide a constant supply of water and are reputed to be the largest group of springs used for public water supplies in Europe. They also have an obvious connection to The Spring as a venue.
Wellspring was created specially for The Spring. What challenges did this bring?
We had to make the work fit well with the space at The Spring and control the light levels so the installation feels immersive and focused. The sense of immersion is a key component and one which The Spring was keen to see, as it creates a distinctly different experience of the space.
How did you create the video installation?
We began by looking into the history of The Spring and the area. We then spent a lot of time planning the high speed film sequences and created a series of miniature ‘landscapes’ and scenarios ready for filming which we set up in one of the large rooms at The Spring. We hired a specialised high-speed camera, lighting and a technical operative to come down to Havant and spent a very long day in May 2019 filming the various sequences at The Spring. This footage forms the basis of the installation and the way it is set up to create an immersive environment is integral to the work. We used different film speeds and direction to suggest entropy of materials and the arrow of time, but also to create a unique and extraordinary view of these interactions between material and water. We have focused particularly on the material culture around chalk, water and parchment and made poetic reference to the landscapes of the South Downs in the folds of the leather as water flows through and over it.
What effect does filming in slow motion have on the final video?
High-speed film creates slow motion when played back at normal speed. We like the way that ordinary small scale events such as cascading water or stones falling on chalk dust become monumental sculpture and mesmerising to watch.
What can visitors expect from the exhibition?
An immersive environment with a soundscape. There’s a blacked out space with a low ceiling and the video projection spanning 2.7 metres across the centre wall. The side walls are mirrored so the film sequence wraps around the viewer. Visitors will start to feel immersed in the landscape of another world that is slowly transforming and unfolding.
Wellspring is in the Mezzanine Gallery from September 9 until December 23.
Artists’ website: www.heinrichpalmer.co.uk