As a renewable energy photographer, I can’t think of a better way to embrace the new year than to celebrate artists who are inspired by renewable energy and who, collectively, are changing the social narrative surrounding what President Obama calls our irreversible transition to a post-carbon future.
Throughout 2017, I will post once each month about an artist or group of artists whose work explores wind, solar and other forms of renewable energy from a variety of perspectives. From architects to poets to sculptors to musicians, these artists are changing the mood music about climate change while drawing much-needed attention to the many health and economic benefits of renewables, improved energy efficiency and electrifying transport systems in our increasingly crowded and polluted cities.
For our opening post on renewable energy artworks, we travel to the UK’s maritime city of Hull on the Yorkshire coast, where the multimedia artist Nayan Kulkarni recently transformed the historic heart of the city with the installation of a massive 28-tonne, 250ft-long (75m) offshore wind turbine blade. “The Blade” is the first major artwork commissioned as part of Look Up, a year-long cultural celebration of public artwork and installations marking Hull’s tenure as UK City of Culture 2017.
The Blade was built by local men and women newly hired at Siemen’s recently constructed state-of-the-art offshore wind manufacturing plant located in the revitalized Alexandra Docks on the Humber River.
According to The Guardian, this industrial blade-cum-artwork draws important links between Hull’s industrial past, its more recent slide into economic despair and – thanks to the promise of offshore wind – an optimistic future.
For example, up to one thousand new manufacturing jobs will be created by the new factory, in a city with one of the highest unemployment rates in the UK. Further development of Alexandra Dock will continue throughout 2017, including construction of a new harbour for pre-assembly and load out of wind turbine components destined for the construction of massive offshore wind projects off the coast of England and northern Europe.
In an online interview published by The Mirror, Martin Green, CEO and Director of Hull 2017, hopes that the installation of this enormous industrial object will start a debate about what constitutes art. “This is a very beautiful object, hand-made, in a really interesting context at a very interesting time in the city’s history. And to me, that makes art. But I think that debate will rage,” he added.
In a press release, Mr. Green added “Nayan Kulkarni’s Blade is a dramatic, yet graceful addition to Hull’s city centre. Despite its size, what is striking about the sculpture is its elegance. Putting this example of state of the art technology against the historic charms of Queen Victoria Square makes you look at this fine public space differently. It’s a structure we would normally expect out at sea and in a way it might remind you of a giant sea creature, which seems appropriate with Hull’s maritime history. It’s a magnificent start to our Look Up programme, which will see artists creating sight specific work throughout 2017 for locations around the city.”
The Blade will remain in Queen Victoria Square until March 18th.
Next month’s post: Land Art Generator Initiative‘s “Renewable energy can be beautiful”
This article is part of the Renewable Energy series.
Joan Sullivan is a renewable energy photographer based in Québec, Canada. Since 2009, Joan has focused her cameras (and more recently her drones) exclusively on solutions to climate change. She is convinced that the inevitable transition to a 100% clean energy economy will happen faster – and within our lifetimes – by creating positive images and stories that help us visualize and embrace what a post-carbon future will look like. Joan collaborates frequently with filmmakers on documentary films that explore the human side of the energy transition. She is currently working on a photo book about the energy transition. Her renewable energy photos have been exhibited in group shows in Canada and the UK. You can find Joan on Twitter and Instagram.