Hannah Carrol Harris: Chlorophyta

Words by
David Whitworth
Images by
Hannah Carrol Harris
| October 8, 2014

Hannah Carroll Harris is a Sydney based visual artist interested in creating unexpected encounters with nature. She does this in a fascinating variety of ways, from creating her own little algae creatures, to structuring and encouraging the growth of salt crystals!

'Chlorophyta Viridiplantae, Specimens 1-12' 2012 Australian freshwater algae, nylon filament, specimen jars, water, lightbox. Photo by Isabella Favaloro

Its easy to think of artworks as static, so it is intriguing to see an artist who is interested and inspired by nature actually working with live material, as Hannah explains;

 Chlorophyta was created by weaving Australian freshwater algae with nylon filament on a loom to create the little living creatures.

Hannah talks about the unexpected processes involved in working with a living medium, and the surprising results. The act of making the work seems to set up a condition with a refreshing openness to possibility, as Hannah says;

I had it packaged up in specimen jars, depraved of light and air for over a year and I decided to pull it out one day thinking they would probably be dead. I was really surprised to see that not only were they alive but they had continued to grow and even sustain some sort of weird green slimey life.

'Chlorophyta Viridiplantae, Specimens 1-12' 2012 Australian freshwater algae, nylon filament, specimen jars, water, lightbox. Photo by Isabella Favaloro

Weird green slimy life is probably not the effect most artists are after! but that’s what makes this work intriguing, the combination between a controlled beginning and the acceptance of a process that we aren’t entirely in control of, a scaled or curated encounter with a visual dimension of natural phenomena and processes. ‘Nature’ as an idea or inspiration, isn’t replicated or depicted, but actively engaged with and encouraged. Hannah says her work ‘Biophilia’ is probably where this exploration (between geological phenomena and material experimentation) first took place;

I made a coloured salt solution and grew crystals directly onto the fabric before setting it in wax to create conglomerate formations that sprawled out over the wall. Much like the algae works- the pieces continue to transform depending on the humidity and where they’re displayed.

The acceptance of change within a work, and change related to the condition of the environment the work is in, seems to me a sensitive response to the source material.

Check out Hannah’s website here!

'Biophilia' 2013 crystallised fabric, paraffin wax, salt. Photo by Isabella Favoloro
'Terra Incognita (Fern #1)' 2014 Dried ferns and white paint

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