New Art Centre, Roche Court, Salisbury, Wiltshire

Tania Kovats
New Work
November 9 - December 12, 1999
Referred to as the 'thinking person's yBa' (William Feaver, Observer, 6/09/98), Tania Kovats' work employs a variety of conceptual strategies which challenge our relationship with nature and the sublime.

Continuing a project begun in Salisbury as part of 'Secret Gardens -a series of works in gardens and the landscape', Kovats has now completed Harvest -literally the harvesting of a crop of oats she had planted in a single strip in an uncultivated field. Grown in a secluded valley as a large-scale public artwork, the oats are now in bales and form part of her exhibition at the New Art Centre. Along with documentary photographs of the field and growing oats, this work explores the associations between the landscape, agriculture, farming and sculpture.

Within the context of the sculpture park, the hay bales are both an unexpected and disruptive intervention into this environment, while also being interesting and dynamic sculptural forms in their own right. By disturbing our common understandings and expectations of the landscape, this work disrupts the cultural significance of nature - forcing us to think beyond the sublime and ideal of the countryside.

The other sculpture in the exhibition also unsettles our relationship to the landscape, but through an exploration of travel and how we locate ourselves within geography. Rocky Road is a floor sculpture suggesting a journey or pilgrimage, yet simultaneously both encouraging and denying travel. Kovats writes, 'It is a metaphorical landscape that turns in on itself, endless, difficult, and without destination.

Sunk -a more typical Kovats work -a volcanic crater set within a white plinth -brings us up close to the landscape. Referencing geological time scales, Kovats encourages us to approach and examine the work, but the pleasure of doing so is again denied as we view the result of a cataclysmic natural event. The summit which is sought has been imploded and with it our aspirations to contain and control nature. Neither a small toy model nor a monumental representation, Kovats works somewhere in between, the unexpected size of the piece creating the unease of the uncanny.

In all works, Tania Kovats plays with scale and contrasts, while also signalling time and the temporary nature of human interventions. Work that is at once inviting and disturbing uses these representations, or interventions themselves, to create both spiritual and physical meaning as we consciously locate ourselves in the landscape.

A millennium exhibition curated by Tania Kovats work is scheduled for spring 2000 at the Ikon Gallery, Birmingham.
To see images of the exhibition please click below
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