Sian Bowen and Nova Zembla: Suspending the Ephemeral

Sian Bowen

Research output: Non-textual formExhibition


As Guest Artist in Drawing at Rijksmuseum Amsterdam, Sian Bowen spent two years (2010-12) developing a new body of works; the Nova Zembla collection of prints, which, having lain frozen in the Arctic for three centuries, provided opportunities to explore the materiality of drawing and the ephemeral nature of museum objects on paper. The prints were carried as merchandise on a 1596 failed Dutch expedition to China. An over-wintering refuge on Nova Zembla housed these stacks until their discovery: they had been transformed into papier-mâché blocks. In 1977, methods were devised to reassemble the thousands of fragments. The works in this exhibition reflect Bowen’s own ‘journey’ 
through the project, emphasizing the tactile qualities of her 
artworks which, at the same time, employ light, transparency, perforation, reflection and fragility, 
and consolidating the often fugitive nature of the materials used in 
their making.
 The artist realized the project collaborating with Rijksmuseum’s Paper 
Conservation Studio to employ 16th century methods and materials to new ends, and also with archaeologists, curators, historians, printmakers and filmmakers. She worked closely with papermaker, Gangolf Ulbricht, to make paper for her drawings sympathetic to that of the Nova Zembla prints. In addition she retraced part of the route of the original expedition and filmed this journey through the fragmented icepack as it was reflected in a replica ‘Claude glass’.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 2012
EventSian Bowen and Nova Zembla: Suspending the Ephemeral - Fruehsorge Gallery for Contemporary drawing, Berlin
Duration: 1 Jan 2012 → …

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