The Guardian: The Great British Art Tour: A Crystalline Cave to Dazzle and Unsettle

April 12, 2021

Claire Feeley

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The Great British Art Tour: A Crystalline Cave to Dazzle and Unsettle
By: Claire Feeley

A decade ago, Anya Gallaccio was invited by Nicky and Robert Wilson to create the artwork of her dreams at Jupiter Artland, the Scottish outdoor gallery that is more akin to a garden for art, learning and nature than a sculpture park. The Paisley-born artist lived on site while conceiving The Light Pours Out of Me, at first inspired to work with flowers, and then turning to crystals—another natural form that grows over time, albeit geological rather than human time.

The Light Pours Out of Me, finished in 2012, takes the form of a contemporary grotto, enclosing the visitor in a crystalline cave of purple amethyst, guarded by a lake of black obsidian glass stones. Making a nod to the British landscaping tradition of the folly or grotto, Gallaccio’s cave stands as a counterpoint to the picturesque landscape that surrounds it. Instead of the idyllic, Gallaccio gives us a vision that is dazzlingly protean—even diabolic—in nature.

Of her work, the artist has said: “I would like it to be unsettling for people when they first encounter it. I’d like them to question whether they should enter or not. [Once inside] it is grandiose but intimate, a quiet place for one or two people.” The artist sees the work as a private rather than public work, for precisely these reasons. It invites a first-hand experience—to consider the landscape anew and encounter the natural work from an intimate perspective.

The nature of change and the passage of time are recurring themes across Gallacio’s work, and through engaging with the archetype of the cave carved into the Scottish bedrock, she has created something that will last beyond our lifetimes. One may revisit this work many times, but it will never be quite the same, as we are never the same.

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