Diatoms is a sculptural installation consisting of light-boxes containing illuminated items of cut-glass crystal. A light within the box shone through the crystal piece refracting the light and creating delicate projections onto the screen of the light-box.
The work was named Diatoms, inspired by etchings of actual Diatoms (microscopic phytoplankton) created by Ernst Haeckel (1834-1919) in his book Art Forms in Nature. Haeckel was a German biologist, naturalist, philosopher, physician and artist who created these exquisite works aided only by a simple microscope.
Diatoms are unicellular organisms, phytoplankton, that create exquisitely complex silica exoskeletons around themselves. The projections made by the cut-glass crystal projections resemble these exoskeletons. Beyond the physical similarities, both the phytoplankton diatoms and their luminous counterparts, are constructed from the same material; silica, and both depend on light for their very existence. It is also interesting that the projections created by a once highly desirable luxury item like Waterford Crystal are so similar to one of the most ubiquitous life-forms in aquatic environments.
All of the cut glass crystal used in the ‘Diatoms’ lightboxes were manufactured prior to the closure of the Waterford Crystalfactory in 2009 leaving over 600 skilled workers without work.
IInstallation view of Diatoms in Optik, Eight Gallery.
Detail of a number of the cut glass projections.