The Hidden Half-Round

La Chasse, L'H du Siège, Valenciennes, John Grade, 2011

La Chasse, Foret Domaniale de Raismes, Scarpe-Escaut, John Grade, 2011

John Grade has been artist in residence at L’H du Siège, Valenciennes, France for the past three months during which time he has made two interrelated works that are now on show until 19 February, 2011.

La Chasse (The Hunt), is in two parts, a large sculpture in the gallery and a film shot around a temporary structure made in the Parc naturel régional Scarpe-Escaut. Both show forms that have half-round sections and that are the inverse of each other in several ways. The gallery sculpture is a dark and ponderous shadow to the other’s light and sketchy net.  They complete one another, top and bottom and share the same horizon like earth and sky.

There is an interesting sequence in the film in which hunters are following a trail in the forest by torchlight at night, their beams of light casting elongated forms into the darkness. There is something of the film-noir about it, as if someone has escaped – there is noise, heavy breathing, some confusion, all senses are poised to combat the darkness, to react, run or shoot.

See the film here.

That forest scene makes me think of both the hidden and the hunted and I was reminded of other half-round structures that I have been reading about recently. The Auxiliary Units created half-round Nissen hut style underground shelters and ammunition stores in woodland throughout Sussex to resist a possible German invasion in WWII. Many had narrow escape tunnels that expanded into larger, hemispherical spaces, like these at Ditchling and at Shipley near Horsham.

Auxiliary Unit Zero Station, Shipley

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