Monday, June 6, 2011

Strontium-90 and the poisoned earth


Strontium-90: poisoned earth, oil on paper, 42x30 cm

















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Strontium-90: poisoned earth is the third of a trilogy including Iodine-131: winds of change  and Cesium-137: bitter harvest .  This series can be seen as a form of Neo Arte Nucleare (a French art movement of 1950's Art Informel).

I won't write at length about how nasty strontium-90 is or document how it has been leaking from the Fukushima plant. Suffice it to say, i had always connected strontium-90 with nuclear weapons and leukemia and bone cancer. But i learn that it is present in those half a million spent and damaged fuel rods that were for some reason stored in the Fukushima reactor buildings, stored on the floor right above the reactors only to collapse into them.

From my youth i had always associated strontium-90 with the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Bitter irony that it is now being released in Japan once again but this time courtesy of Japanese industry and government.

This painting is the last of my experiments with monoprint, originally inspired by the wonderfully evocative small landscapes of John Stinson (visit his fascinating blog here) though he uses quite a different process than the one i have evolved for my more messy approach. It may also be the last of my Fukushima series. I am not sure what's next or where to from here, other than continue to work on large format works and revisit self-portraiture.

Thanks everyone for the interest you have shown in these Fukushima works. It is confronting subject-matter and they have been confronting images - not ideal fare for a relaxing browse among art blogs. But i have aimed to be relevant, current and expressive in my work, and the on-going events of Fukushima grabbed my imagination. So once again, thank you my bloggy friends.

21 comments:

  1. Fantastic
    Fuckushima work!!! woww!!

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  2. Hello Harry,
    I must say, you have met all goals with this series in magnificent fashion. Maybe I don't see all the artwork "out there", but your series on the Fukushima events is the most stirring, enlightening, horrifyingly relevant and beautiful artwork I've seen in many years.
    It has been a rare privilege to not only see this theme develop, but to know the artist, as well.
    You have, no doubt, become a huge thorn in the side of nuclear energy proponents by producing this beautiful yet screaming wake-up call to the millions of us looking the other way while new plants are being contemplated and built.
    Congratulations Harry.

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  3. I will miss these, although I ran out of adjectives half-way through the series--words fail. These haunting images will stay with me; I know I'll revisit and reread many times. Unforgettable.

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  4. No, thank YOU, Harry for taking this on - and taking it in - and then taking it to us.

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  5. Thanks, cardesin, and welcome to my blog.

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  6. Thanks Gary for unfailing support. Yes, i'm waiting to be sued by TEPCO, lol, because if if Google images for 'Fukushima', up comes my work.

    But despite the detail ive gone into with my text about what's happened there, my primary purpose has not been to create nuclear polemic.

    Rather, i'm just a struggling art student trying to learn how to paint effective portraits.

    Thanks again, gary.

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  7. Thank you so much, Hallie. Your interest and support have been very important along the way. How else would i get the nerve to keep painting these blotches and calling them portraits?

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  8. Gabriella, youre fantastic. Your observations and insights have been a thrill to read. Thanks for all your support.

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  9. Creo que tus obras, reflejan una contingencia dramática de la vida real...y que quedará como testimonio para el mundo futuro. Así como los grandes pintores-maestros pintaron las guerras, la historia de sus pueblos en su momento, así tú. Por eso, tu trabajo tiene un gran mérito que deberá ser reconocido por todos.
    Es mi reflexión sobre tu arte y lo acaecido en Japón.
    Mi admiración por tu obra, Harry.

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  10. Gracias, María, por sus comentarios tan amables. Me complace que usted encuentra las pinturas relevantes para el mundo de hoy.

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  11. Well ... I've been dabbling in "Tachisme" for a while and not known it! Love the mood and drama you have created in this piece.

    Thank for visiting my blog and leaving your comment. It allowed me to find you! After reading your bio, I see we have a lot of common interests/work/education/artistic endeavors, etc. Can't resist following.

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  12. What Hallie said is what I think so I'll just say Ditto to her post. What a powerful body of work - and I, too, will miss them but maybe they are not gone completely yet...

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  13. I agree with all the previous comments. You have taken this subject and given it an original and emotive series of work. They have great power and expression. I look forward to seeing your new venture.

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  14. Gosh Harry, all three of these are thought provoking and haunting. A sign of our times, incredible work.

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  15. Dear Harry.
    I am personally against nuclear energy and Fukushima has destroy me every single day!!
    Congrats for your battle for everyone's battle!!! Note that one rabit has born without one ear in Fukushima last week!!!

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  16. Hi Bonnie. Welcome to my blog. I must admit, having retired from psychology and education, work is not foremost in my mind haha.

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  17. Thanks Rhonda. These dark monoprints are defintiely at an end. But i have an idea about painting with plaster for a 'fog'effect (and cost-effective too, lol), so might do some diappearing Hazmats yet.

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  18. Thanks, Carolann. I'm not sure what the next venture is, just sort of feeling my way (as usual, lol). Have more ideas for media and processes and formats at the moment than i do for subjects.

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  19. Hi Liz. Thank you. Yes, the times we live in. Though the Middle Ages had plague i guess and that them cause to pause and think too.

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  20. Yes, feelings run deep over Fukushima, Jaime. The rabbit is a worry. Let's hope it is not statistically significant.

    But Japanese government has repeatedly been slow to act, and has down-played the dangers, in the mistaken belief that avoiding panic and blame is more important than saving people's health and lives. So i fear for the people 100km around Fukushima, for a start.

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