Jellyfish, Where Is Your Sting?
Annie Block -- Interior Design, 8/1/2008 12:00:00 AM
"The fine line between beauty and grotesque, good and evil, fascinates me," sculptor Timothy Horn says. So does sea life—and not only the creatures native to the waters surrounding southeastern Australia's Mornington Peninsula, where he spent childhood weekends. The primary reference behind his Medusa, a colossal jellyfish of a chandelier, was the illustrations of German 19th-century physician and zoologist Ernst Haeckel. Horn discovered Haeckel's book of artful engravings, Kunstformen der Natur, during undergraduate studies in glassmaking at the Canberra School of Art. "Although a scientist foremost, Haeckel's legacy has been important to artists. He got carried away by symmetry and perfection, which isn't really how nature appears. Where he went astray gave me fuel."
Fuel for Medusa came specifically from the book's plate 88, which Horn re-created in silicone rubber ("more organic and forgiving than glass") and fiber optics ("an ideal approximation of jellyfish bioluminescence"). The 6-by-9-foot, 800-pound chandelier required a year to make. From 80 molds, he produced 700 pieces; then he used monofilament to stitch them together and attach them to a 20-part copper armature. The result debuted at New York's Hosfelt Gallery and is now on display at California's San Jose Institute of Contemporary Art.
As for the chandelier's name, its derivation is two-pronged. Students of mythology will recognize the snake-haired Gorgon. Latin scholars will also know that the word for jellyfish is medusa.
Photography by David Stroud / Hosfelt Gallery
August Lighting Special
Don't miss our other lighting features:
Market Micro: Michelle Brand's Cascade
A close-up of an eco-friendly chandelier.
Market Talent: Captain Organic
See what Ross Lovegrove has been designing for Artemide.