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Sunday, 9 December 2018

Spotlight - Wrapping paper

Spilt paint delivery.  Our art materials travel.  They can have a life of their own, and express themselves
It’s a wrap.
Olafur Eliasson, 'Ice Watch' ice sculpture installation at Place do Pantheon, Paris
Do you have old books or comics? Why not use them as wrapping paper?  Old 'Far Side' albums, or Steve Bell or Viz, gathering dust on a shelf or in the loft, loses its “Wow” as we grow past it and see more new things. Same as any art – it gets dull gradually.  By the time we drag that rough-papered book out of the box or shelf, we find it’s a nice chuckle, but maybe not as stunning as when we first met it. Same as that watercolour that we loved when we bought it, but are now so comfortable with that we don’t look at the petals and leaf light very often. We could even use this analogy for relationships.
Wrapping paper used as interior decor

Wrapping paper does not get old.  It does not last long enough to get old. It last about ten seconds, and usually is ignored.
  If you ever wonder about superficiality, consider pretty paper that is barely looked at, as one dives into the core of the gift. Wrapping paper is rather wasteful. Plastic festive cheer and binbags of paper are probably on the decline, in these times of austerity.
Statuette of Harry Potter
There is a balance to be made, of course. Consumption is otherwise pretty essential and useful, and part of our pleasures and purpose. 
Detroit based environmental artist Michael McGillis lets each site dictate how he fills the space with his celebrated land art. Above and below, at the University of Oregon’s Overlook Field School, the decision was glass collected from the site and incandescent lighting. 
Far Side cartoon, by Gary Larson
If climate change is important, is it right to use energy and materials in order to highlight climate change?
Ice at Nuuk Kangerlua Fjord, Nuuk, Greenland, where the ice was harvested
Olafur Eliasson is arranging for many tons of ice blocks to be transported to London’s Tate Modern, where they will sit and slowly melt as several near-leaders of countries get together for COP24, to discuss ways to solve climate change problems. They will meet in Poland. The 24 ice blocks shipped or flown from Greenland, will not be very near the COP24 summit. Still, it gets people talking.
Christmas presents wrapped in 'Far Side' cartoons
Olafur says “By enabling people to experience and actually touch the blocks of ice in this project, I hope we will connect people to their surroundings in a deeper way and inspire radical change.”
A cartoon by Steve Bell
We can readily say “But, Olafur, you have tons of oil and energy to get them here, what a terrible waste, and how ironically foolish.” This conundrum is well known. My own environmental works use polyester resin, when bioresin is unaffordable. The materials need fossil-fuel-based delivery, and all this causes much anguish in the process. 
The vast blocks of ice look like an extravagant statement, and that makes us uncomfortable – which is exactly the truth, and the point. They are also pretty Cool (I’ll get my coat).

Olafur has designed energy-efficient household items that self-charge, and he has been heavily involved in creating and providing solar powered lamps for refugees. So on balance he is way ahead. We often find there is great merit to the lives and practices of those we can criticise – once we take off the wrapper.

Olafur Eliasson

This Christmas, find out something interesting about a friend.  And share something about yourself.
And have a fine, refreshing, fun-filled, spiritual and joyful Christmas everyone.
With very best festive wishes from LAS.
You can watch the London Ice at