The new Norton Museum of Art has many delicious reflective art and places, with pools, fountains and views to the sea. Bringing that water world theme indoors, the new three-story installation by Rob Wynne sprinkles over 6,000 pieces of hand poured glass up the walls of the three story staircase that leads to new galleries.
Taking its cue from the sun and surf, this unexpected work, called ‘I Remember Ceramic Castles, Mermaids & Japanese Bridges‘ “is appropriated from the writing of Ronald Firbank, the early 20th Century eccentric English novelist,” says Wynne from his studio in NYC’s Tribeca. “This description of the contents of a fish bowl or aquarium suited the lobby installation that I originally did at The Norton in 2012. The Museums proximity to the sea as well as the feeling of keen observation that I felt in being in such a specific location was the genesis of the larger iteration now permanently installed in the new building.”
The actual title of the work is spelled out on the wall at the landing of the ground floor level, then thousands more glass shapes that resemble sea spray in silver and cerulean blue rise and shimmer their way three stories up.
For Wynne, his work is all about the process of the material. About 20 years ago he made a piece that he thought would look great in glass. “I was mesmerized by the piece,” says Wynne. “I dropped as it started to cool and form and had this nice dimpling texture to it. I said save this, and it became my first piece.”
Hand pouring the molten glass to shape letters and forms like waves and sea spray, he makes them by first arranging them on the floor and creating a template to recreate them on the wall. Each individual piece gets coated on the back with silver nitrate, then drilled with a hole so a screw can be inserted, then it’s numbered according to the template.
As for how Wynne approached expanding this new piece for the Norton, he says Curator Cheryl Brutvan, Director Hope Alswang and Palm Beach gallerist Sarah Gavlak all approached him with the idea, of finally being able to install the TEXT component in the new building.
“My only interaction with the architects was that I was given their elevations of the stairway space. Since there was so much more space available…we discussed how to incorporate the TEXT with its deeper meaning…I was able to make the DOT and FROTH components to extend the piece both physically (size) and metaphorically (the actual appearance of WATER). The installation of the piece was complicated, because we had to put up the paper templates which reference the over 6,000 new components. The stairwell was completely scaffolded so that my team and the Norton’s team could access all the areas and heights.”
“I’ve been representing Rob for over 10 years,” says Sarah Gavlak. “I can honestly say it’s one of the most ambitious and beautiful projects he’s ever done. I’ve worked with Cheryl Brutvan on several projects at the Norton, including an exhibition with Rob in 2012. She is a wonderful collaborator. In fact, it was her idea to incorporate an existing text work that the Norton acquired from the 2012 exhibition and add his iconic splashes and waves to make an overall immersive installation.”
Rob Wynne was beaming at the Museum’s opening and is beyond pleased with the results and how it looks in the new building.
“I think that the Foster Partners architecture is astonishing – the sweep of it and the generosity that it provides not only to viewing art, but to the surrounding outside is a great achievement,” he says.
Rob Wynne’s Art Installation: Castles, Mermaids & Bridges