We love the chance to work with new and interesting people. And one of the most interesting subjects we’ve worked with is the artist Liz West. Liz mixes luminous colour and radiant light to create vivid environments and she does it on a big scale.
So when we learned that our friends at Chester Visual Arts had collaborated with Chester Cathedral to commission Our Colour Reflection, a large-scale, high impact work by Liz, for the cathedral’s Chapter House, we decided we should make a film about it. In the event we made three, all very different and each highlighting a particular aspect of our technique. Together they show how film can help add another perspective to installation art.
First we produced a short documentary, filming Liz in her Salford studio and talking to her about her life, her process and the work itself, which has previously been exhibited in London and Berlin. This was used to promote the exhibition.
Then we produced a 2-minute time-lapse film of the installation itself, which took place over 2 days and involved the meticulous placing of some 765 circular, different sized mirrors in 15 colours on cylindrical clear perspex plinths. The installation is carefully choreographed by Liz to ensure surprising interactions between the art and its environment.
Using time-lapse meant that not only did we see the process in an almost graphic form, we also saw how the work’s relationship with its medieval surroundings changed with the passage of time through the day and into the evening. Colour was reflected by the mirrors onto the carved stone surfaces, growing in intensity with the light. At the same time the floor of mirrors reflected fantastic, fragmented images of the Chapter House’s stained glass windows and architecture.
Visitors loved the work from the start and it attracted lots of media and social media attention. The Times even used a photograph of the installation as a picture feature. But there was one thing missing. The installation completely filled the Chapter House, so you could only view it from one end.
We thought it would be good to give viewers an entirely different perspective. So, we decided to fly a Phantom Inspire drone over the piece and cut together the results into a third edit. A quick test flight on location with a visiting choir watching curiously on reassured us that the downdraft from the drone was not going to blow the mirrors off their plinths. Our pilot James boldly flew the drone straight through the Gothic arched entrance into the space and we were away, revealing Our Colour Reflection in all its glory.
The edit shows how precisely drones can be manoeuvred in difficult environments with little space to work in and still produce stunning, intriguing results. Almost inevitably a couple of mirrors did slide off their plinths as the drone flew above them which was where James’s alternative career as a rock climber came in handy. Suitably restored we were able to let the public back in again within 20 minutes of starting filming. Drones are quick as well as incredibly versatile.
Director: Andy Porter
Conventional camera operator: Kate Harvest
Time lapse: Stalwart Films
Aerials: James Maxwell, RSK Orbital
Special thanks to Chester Visual Arts, Chester Cathedral and Liz West
Photography - Mark Carline
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