Erica van Loon’s patterns in nature



Erica van Loon working with geometric patterns in the Thom Studio. Photo: Kim Williams.

How do you make an object that’s powerful enough to change mountains? According to Dutch sculptor, Erica van Loon, it happens one geometric pattern at a time.

For an artist whose creative work involves a dialogue with nature, Banff is the place to be. Set back into the woods in the Thom Studio in the Leighton Artist Colony, van Loon, has been here for two months of her three-month residency. She invited me into her studio to have a look at the work in progress. She’s been making different patterns in cardboard so they’re light enough to carry through the woods overhead. 

Fieldwork, 2011, HD video, Erica van Loon

With her previous work in Holland, van Loon filmed herself carrying an approximately 5′x5′x5′ object overhead through nature, allowing the object to dictate the path through the trees. “I like that the object determines my movement,” she says. “It fits, or it does not fit.”  Her work involves viewing landscape through geometric patterns, creating new relationships between linear and organic shapes. She’s already put together a list of  locations around Banff and Jasper where she’ll start filming her new forms in nature.

I’m really interested in the object being some kind of grid that you put over nature. A grid being pretty rational yet at the same time these geometric patterns are used in meditation.

Erica van Loon testing out examples of form before constructing her larger objects. Photo: Kim Williams.

She’s slightly sleep deprived, her mind filled with Moiré patterns, drawing every night, early morning recordings of local bird sounds for her video. She’s still not sure what the work will look like in the end. She’s done similar work in Holland but the wildness of Banff brings a whole new set of challenges.

“The mountains are so huge – the whole scale is different – everything is so outstretched and wild.” She needs to make these patterns large enough so that they are able to interact with the vast landscape.



About Author

Monique Walsh is a writer, collaborator, and facilitator. She currently holds the position of Communications Officer at The Banff Centre and is pursuing a Master's degree in Adult Education. Walsh is inspired by the magic of the mountains and the creative people that surround this place.

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