copper kelp forest: community on the edge

copper kelp forest: community on the edge

sarah groves

april 2 - may 3, 2023

ccbc shop & gallery

artist statement

Designing and making jewellery in copper, silver, and gold with cultured pearls and natural gemstones have been the focus of my artistic practice for over 20 years. Exhibitions, trade shows, and craft markets were the primary venues where I sold my work until pandemic restrictions shut them down. In response to pandemic rules, I decided to stop adding to my jewellery inventory and use the expanse of unstructured quarantine time to explore larger sculptural forms in copper.

Copper is a joy to work with—it is malleable, responsive and reactive to various substances that produce patinas in a range of colours. Early in the pandemic, I experimented with anticlastic (1) raising to create bird-like copper forms. I assembled these forms into small mobiles with up to a dozen birds that bob and drift dynamically in air currents. Arranging and balancing the birds were the most challenging aspects of making the mobiles. Through trial and error, I figured out how to construct the mobiles while gaining immense respect for the expertise that Alexander Calder brought to this kinetic art form. After making some small mobiles, I decided to work at a larger scale.

The undulating forms produced by anticlastic raising and the gentle motion of these forms in a mobile brought to mind the movement of giant algae in kelp forests. I began to explore ways of creating a kelp forest mobile inhabited by denizens of these marine ecosystems. Prototyping individual kelp blades and assembling multiple blades into kelp fronds that hung at realistic angles were significant design challenges and essential steps to determining the viability of the kelp forest concept. Counterweighting each blade proved to be the solution, and, after numerous prototypes, I determined that lead fishing weights tucked into the bladder of each blade could achieve the desired result.

A diversity of marine organisms including rockfish, herring, cod, jellyfish, starfish, brittle stars, skates, halibut, kelp crabs, sea slugs, sea urchins inhabit kelp forests. Some bottom-dwelling creatures such as halibut, starfish, skates are also part of the installation.

(1) Anticlastic raising is the process of forging metal to form opposing curved surfaces (e. g. saddle or potato chip shapes) that do not form a container. By comparison, synclastic raising forms curves in a uniform direction (e.g. cup or bowl).

about sarah groves
“I am a metalsmith/jeweller working with copper, silver, gold, pearls, and natural gemstones. I use a variety of techniques – forging, anticlastic raising, fabrication, and lost-wax casting to create original designs. My experience as a printmaker and ecologist influences my designs which often incorporate a variety of textures, patinas, and references to natural objects. I delight in taking a piece of metal and transforming it into something new whether it is my own design or a commission that emerges through collaboration with a client.”