Tiapapata

This body of work was created during an artist residency with the Tiapapata Arts Centre in Samoa in 2019, and was exhibited at the Arts Centre.

The works explore the geography of the island through colour, pattern. Claire was also invited to create a large hanging mobile, purpose built for the high ceilings of the Tiapapata Arts Centre’s gallery space.

Blue Dot

Blue Dot was exhibited at the School House Gallery at Rosny Farm, Tasmania, in 2018.

Look up – or should we say out. We inhabit a thin slice. Beneath us are layers of soil, sand, rock and magma; and above us, layers less visible radiate out from our sphere of heavier, terrestrial elements.

The nestled spheres of our atmosphere are home to the clouds.

The mobiles hanging in the School House Gallery are an invitation to cloud-gaze. The circles of sky drift gently, stirred by a breeze from an open window.

These “cloud portraits” belong to Hobart. Clouds are the movement of air and water made visible, and Hobart’s cloudscapes are distinctly shaped by its geography: the mountain, the river, the sea, the city. Nothing operates in isolation.

Beyond the clouds the sky looks blue, and if you get far enough out and look back, the planet looks blue too. A pale blue dot, precious and extraordinary, suspended in space.

At the Bottom of an Ocean of Air

At the Bottom of an Ocean of Air was exhibited in 2018 in Contemporary Art Tasmania’s project space, Hobart, Tasmania.

Noi viviamo sommersi nel fondo d’un pelago d’aria
“We live submerged at the bottom of an ocean of air”

– Evangelista Torricelli (inventor of the barometer), 1634

At the Bottom of an Ocean of Air is an installation of home-made barometers. Made from simple materials, they respond to changes in atmospheric pressure. As the air pressure changes, the little lights flicker on and off like bioluminescing creatures of the deep atmosphere.

At the Bottom of an Ocean of Air, 2018, home-made barometers (jars, latex, water, plasticine), LED’s, wire and batteries.

 

Clouds of a Chaotic Sky

Clouds of a Chaotic Sky  was exhibited in 2018 at Salamanca Arts Centre, Hobart, Tasmania.

Lie on your back and observe the shapes drifting through the sky. Imagine the weight of the billions of droplets of water suspended – a blanket, saturated and heavy, slipping between forms, amorphous and ever changing. Clouds of a Chaotic Sky is an exploration of the sublime, ephemeral beauty of clouds.

Clouds of a Chaotic Sky is presented by Salamanca Arts Centre, and was opened by Simon McCulloch – ABC’s 7pm weather presenter in Tasmania and senior forecaster with the Bureau of Meteorology.

The artworks in this exhibition engage with specific stories about clouds which you can discover by following this link: Download the cloud stories here…

 

 

Artist Statement

Clouds of a Chaotic Sky takes its name from a cloud state that can be observed regularly in Hobart; Altocumulus of a Chaotic Sky. The works are linked with this city. In them, stories, myths and sciences from diverse origins are reimagined to take place in Tasmania. A suspended cloud is constructed from small ceramic objects, made with locally dug clay and fired in the artist’s West Hobart garden. A language of meteorological symbols recurs throughout the works, but severed from their scientific origins they become rune like – a tie to something elemental and primal.

How do we make sense of the weather? We monitor and model it, installing sensors and gauges across the surface of the globe to understand and predict the swirl of air currents, temperatures and pressure systems. We personify it, creating gods that sit atop fluffy cumulous piles or transform themselves into a rolling storm front. We enact ceremonies to bring rain, brew storms in witches’ cauldrons, and seed clouds with silver iodine.

Clouds have always been significant to us, and through our mythologies and sciences throughout human history we’ve tried to understand them, to predict them, and to modify them. After millennia of attempting to predict and affect the subtleties of our climate, it seems we have been successful in triggering real change – but not in a way we had imagined.

Some Stars Wobble

Some Stars Wobble  was exhibited in 2017 at Sawtooth ARI in Launceston, Tasmania.

Imagine drawing a line in space that traces your location as you go round and round, as the globe spins on its axis, as the Earth orbits the sun, as the solar system revolves, slowly, around the centre of the galaxy.

Everything is acted on by gravity. Gravity is what holds these orbits together – the attraction between two masses, the taut string between a planet and a star. We often imagine ourselves at the centre of our own personal universe with others orbiting us, but sometimes the presence of others can pull these systems into highly complex, spinning, looping formations. The hanging mobiles, installations and paintings exhibited in Some Stars Wobble examine the complex balance of a shared existence in the universe.

 

Claire Pendrigh, “Telescope”, 2017, felted wool and various materials

Claire Pendrigh, “Some Stars Wobble” (detail), 2017, rocks and wire

Claire Pendrigh, “Some Stars Wobble”, 2017, rocks and wire

An Intimate Universe

An Intimate Universe was created for, and exhibited in, the Bunbury Biennale at Bunbury Regional Art Galleries, Western Australia, in 2015.

Nebulae are clouds of stars, dust and elements, drawn together and bound by gravity in a stellar family. These environments create and nurture new stars and solar systems, and hence they are sometimes referred to as stellar nurseries.

Our own galaxy and everything in it would have been created through this process. The elements required for stars, planets, life and for our human bodies, were all forged from stardust.

An Intimate Universe takes the form of a mobile, spanning over two meters, with ten hand knitted, beaded and crocheted clouds suspended from its aluminium arms. The installation explores the micro world of human relations placed in the context of the cosmos.

Claire Pendrigh - photo Paul Webster

Claire Pendrigh, An Intimate Universe, 2015, yarn and aluminium, 250 x 250 x 250 cm

Tea Seas

Tea Seas was created during a two-month artist residency with Studio Kura, in Itoshima, Japan, 2015. The body of work was exhibited at the Studio Kura Gallery in March 2015, and at Bunbury Regional Art Galleries in Western Australia in August 2015.

Tea Seas uses imagery of a primordial sea contained within a teacup.

The water in a cup of tea is one part of the Earth’s finite quantity of water. This water changes form, but it is never replenished. The water in your teacup is the same water that has flowed in the blood of every living organism – the same water from a primordial sea which nursed the first living cells on Earth. Just as the circle of your teacup echoes the shape of the cells in your body, it also mirrors the shape of this pale blue dot that we inhabit.

Taking its cues from the Japanese tea ceremony, Tea Seas follows a ritualistic process of repetition and restraint in order to explore our precarious human existence.

Read Alisa Blakeney’s catalogue essay about this body of work Fluid Dynamics at alisa.pizza.

 

Abiogenesis, 2015, Claire Pendrigh, digitally projected animation at Studio Kura Gallery

Cloudburst

Cloudburst was exhibited at CHASM Gallery, New York, in 2014.

Australian artists Christian Lock and Claire Pendrigh debut a dynamic two-person show exploring elemental forces and our connectedness to the universe.

Pendrigh’s Star Clouds are knitted imaginings of the clouds of carbon dust produced by RCB type stars. These stars occasionally exhale clouds of carbon rich dust, obscuring them from view and causing their brightness to decline until the dust has dissipated. This work aims to locate the individual in the context of the universe, after all, we are all made of star-dust.

 

Wonder

Wonder was exhibited at Moores Building Contemporary Art Gallery, Fremantle, Western Australia in 2014.

Wonder is an inquiry into locating the individual in the context of the universe. After all, we are all made from stardust.

These paintings, drawings and knitted installations are inspired by a certain type of star, R Coroner Borealis stars (RCBs), which occasionally eject clouds of carbon rich dust, obscuring them from view and decreasing their apparent magnitude. Once this exhalation of dust dissipates, the star regains its former brightness – dimming and brightening with slow, irregular breaths. The RCBs Clouds are knitted imaginings of these carbon rich clouds. The crocheted Star Graphs, catalogue the changes in brightness. Starting from the centre, you can count the number of stitches to ascertain the time period, while the colour represents the brightness of the star. The repeated motif of the oval references images of the Cosmic Microwave Background (echoes of early light, dating back to the Big Bang).

This exhibition features a number of collaborations with good friends, with out whom, these artworks would not have been created. The artworks are all based on the research of astrophysicist Melanie Hampel, and feature elements that have been created by artist/engineer Daniel Macnish and musician Owen Elliott.


WONDER – The RCB Type Star

Melanie Hampel

Only a small fraction of the universe is composed of the normal matter we are familiar with. Physicists call this ‘baryonic matter’. But which material is the most common one? The simplest atom there is, is the hydrogen atom. It is also the most abundant one with ca. 74% of all baryonic matter being hydrogen.

Hydrogen is followed by the noble gas helium which makes up about 24% of the matter. This means that all other elements altogether only contribute up to 2%. Usually the composition of stars is similar to this distribution. The star that has been studied best is our sun. Not surprisingly it is also composed mainly of hydrogen, with a quarter of helium and only a tiny amount of heavier elements, which astronomers refer to as ‘metals’. But there are some kinds of stars that deviate from this expected composition. One of these are the R Coronae Borealis stars, or short: RCBs. Although hydrogen is so common in our universe, the atmospheres of RCB stars do not show any signs of hydrogen! Instead, their main element is helium, which makes up about 99% of their material. RCBs are also classified as so called carbon stars, because they contain a relatively big amount of carbon. But what does relatively mean? In this case it means, that carbon is more abundant than oxygen. The composition of RCBs is quite remarkable, but what really makes them so fascinating and rare objects can only be seen when they are observed over a longer period: They disappear unexpectedly! Just as randomly, they might reappear!

Of course they don’t really disappear, we can just not observe them anymore because suddenly their brightness decreases immensely. This can be as severe as the star getting a few thousands times dimmer over the course of just a few weeks (stars are very old objects that evolve over the time of millions of years, so weeks usually don’t mean anything in the life of a star). It is more than 200 years ago, that the English astronomer Edward Pigott observed in 1795 that the prototype of the RCB-class R CrB was missing from the sky. It reappeared later that year only to disappear again and has been showing this behavior in irregular intervals ever since.

In July 2007 it started another one of its decline phases but it has not reappeared to normal brightness yet. Even for RCB stars this marks an unusually long decline. To visualise the variations in the brightness of a star, one can create a light curve. It shows the intensity of the light (measured in magnitudes) as a function of time. Here you can see the light curve of the prototype R CrB. It shows the variability over the last 27 years. One can clearly see the dips in the curve when the starlight was blocked by a dust cloud. These dips are irregular and one can also see the last decline from 2007 onwards that is much longer than the other ones. Untitled Since then the search for more stars with this unusual behavior has been ongoing. They are still rare objects and only about 100 of them are known today. Since 1795, not only have the number of discovered RCBs increased, the understanding of RCBs and their declines has also improved.

We now know that RCBs produce clouds which are made up of carbon dust. The star randomly ejects a puffy cloud in any direction. This is the reason for the unpredictable declines: If such a cloud gets into the line of sight it obscures the star and blocks its light. As a consequence it seems like the star has disappeared because the light we receive from it is much fainter than usual. Such a cloud might then just dissipate so that the star reappears slowly until it shines at its maximum brightness again.

MELANIE HAMPEL 2014

Melanie Hampel is an Astrophysicist who currently lives, works and studies in Bonn, Germany. Her research on RCBs brought her to Australia in 2012 to study at the Australian National University, examining the mass distribution of RCBs. References: Clayton, G. C. 1996, PASP, 108, 225 Tisserand, P., Clayton, G. C., Welch, D. L., et al. 2013, A&A, 551, A77 We acknowledge with thanks the variable star observations from the AAVSO International Database contributed by observers worldwide and used in this research.

The Sky and the Earth

The Sky and the Earth was created at the Nes residency in Skagaströnd, Iceland, in 2012 and exhibited at Paper Mountain in Perth, Australia, in 2013.

Skagaströnd is a small fishing town in Iceland’s north of about 500 people. I spent February and March living in this community, just missing the worst of winter but before spring had thawed it out. The body of work I made examines the relationship between those two ever present and dominating features of the Icelandic landscape; the sky and the earth – and the community that exists between them.

“One might think that Australia and Iceland have little in common… Despite vastly differing geological features and conditions, parallels can be drawn between the two. They are places of extremes, where the mythological teeters on the brink of plausibility and where stories are grown, passed down and knit communities together.” Excerpt from The Sky and the Earth Catalogue essay by Shaye Preston, 2013