New exhibition explores UK’s nuclear heritage, landscape and the passage of time
8 January 2020
‘The Scholar Stones Project’ opens at the Holden Gallery on February 7
A new exhibition exploring the connections between the nuclear industry, landscape and the passage of time will be presented at the Holden Gallery at Manchester Metropolitan University.
Russian born artist Yelena Popova has spent the last year visiting decommissioned nuclear sites around the UK. The Scholar Stones Project is a culmination of her research and will feature a new series of paintings alongside two new tapestries.
Working across a range of media including painting, installation, and tapestry, Popova’s multidisciplinary project addresses an ongoing fascination with nuclear history and materiality. The exploration into nuclear heritage reflects on her history and upbringing, having grown up in Ozyorsk, Russia, a secret closed city and birthplace of the Soviet nuclear weapons programme.
Popova said: “I took a traditional Asian scholar rock concept (a stone for contemplation and an early form of engagement with abstraction) as the catalyst for my project: travelling around nuclear sites, learning about the decommissioning process and attempting to find a stone which represents the local landscape and my encounter with it.”
Popova has created a new series of paintings using pigments made from soil gathered at the nuclear research sites she visited. Also on display are two new tapestries, Keepsafe (I and II) 2019, designed as propositions for mausoleums for the decommissioned nuclear reactors. These first-generation Magnox reactors cannot be dismantled and will remain on the British coastline until at least the end of the century, bringing the question of the UK’s nuclear heritage to view.
I took a traditional Asian scholar rock concept (a stone for contemplation and an early form of engagement with abstraction) as the catalyst for my project
The Scholar Stones Project is curated by Zoe Watson, Curator at the Holden Gallery. The exhibition is supported by the Pangaea Sculptors’ Centre, Sculpture Production Award 2019, and Arts Council England. The exhibition is on display at the Holden Gallery from February 7 to March 27 (Preview: February 6, 5:30-7:30pm).