Jonathan’s large-scale artwork starts with melting ice and ends with a dramatic fabric installation. 

Tell us more about your work Negative Mass, which started out as an installation in Takutai Square, and is now a trio of dramatic fabric strips hanging in the Atrium on Takutai. 

The work is a giant photographic print that will record the melting of fifteen 140kg blocks of ice over a period of 3-4 days. Negative Mass is an artwork that aims to raise awareness about the perilous future of glaciers and how they are melting away as a consequence of climate change. 

What led you into this subject area?

My practice has developed a keen interest in pushing the boundaries between art and science as a way of interrogating landscape. This interest led me to start investigating glaciers in 2016 and this has been my focus ever since. I am particularly interested in how photography can talk about a landscape without it being a direct representation. 

After the ice has melted, patterns are left on the fabric beneath it. How does that happen?

Negative Mass is a large-scale photogram, which is a camera-less photographic process that records through contact with objects and light-sensitive material. In this case, the objects are the fifteen 140kg blocks of ice and the light-sensitive material is linen coated with the chemistry from the 19th-century process of the cyanotype. The patterns will be the result of the reaction between light-sensitive material and the physical forces; water, ice, and light.

The fabric under the melting ice has now been installed in the Atrium on Takutai. How does a work like this help people think about climate change?

Negative Mass demonstrates a simple truth that due to a global temperature increase glaciers are melting at an alarming rate. This purpose of this work is to create an interruption in a public space and aims to trigger a conversation where people could contemplate climate change. 

This is an offsite component of an exhibition being held at Gus Fisher Gallery in Shortland Street. How does it fit into the gallery's overall theme?

The Slipping Away exhibition is about environmental advocacy and considering our connection with the sea. Negative Mass connects through the discussion around climate change and its impacts on our environment.

What will you be working on next?

I am a part of an artist collaboration Te Waituhi ā Nuku – Drawing Ecologies that aims to disseminate the complexities of climate change through art. I will be making a stream based work using the same photographic process used in Negative Mass.