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/ 9 December 2015

Ice Melt Sculpture at St James’s Church, Piccadilly

Ice Melt Sculpture

On the eve of the Paris summit on climate change, St James’s Church Piccadilly highlighted the perilous state of the polar ice caps by hosting a giant melting ice sculpture.

The artwork entitled ‘Her floe-fall lament (COP21)’ was created by artist and placemaker Sara Mark.

The installation, which lasted less than a day, was created by a column of frozen water, on top of an oil steel drum melting into the cavity below. The steel drum was burnt and was made as hot as possible before installation, and then surrounded by wood ash, not only to separate the sculpture from people who might touch, but to suggest that destruction of trees are not helping the environment.

The work, placed in the centre of the nave, to disrupt normal church proceedings, was an accompaniment to discussions on the end of days and looking to Christ for hope, which is central to the Advent message. After the evening service, everyone processed around the sculpture, to a fire in the courtyard of the church, which cemented the idea of the delicate balance in the environment of heat and cold, which makes up the world.

Sara Mark who commented on the work, said:

“‘Her floe-fall lament (COP21)’ was made by freezing 66 litres of water into an oil drum. I placed it in the central aisle of the church to cause maximum disruption to the usual events on Sunday.  The constant amplified sound of the melt-water pouring into the oil barrel beneath was an insistent reminder of something happening in real-time elsewhere in the World.”

Adding to her description on the three-metre high sculpture, Sara stated:

“I made my first ice-melt piece in 2006, after attending a Climate Change seminar for artists at the RSA. I was so shocked, I wondered how I could make [art]work about anything else. Since then I have used ice as a symbol for issues that need transformation and resolution. The outcome is inevitable, but with it come release, warmth and a certain stillness after perhaps several days of thaw and agitation.”

 Sara describes her work as a practice that is deeply embedded in ‘Place’ and explores the relationship between the ‘site-specific’ and the ‘Universal’. She states that she is interested in whether objects and space can be imbued with presence through time, ritual and the self-transforming languages of materials. The outcomes are objects, installations and performance.

The Rector of St James’s, Lucy Winkett, said

“The church was filled with the sound of melting ice all through our Sunday services on the eve of the Paris summit.  The gradual disappearance of the huge ice block shaped as an oil barrel seemed to us a suitably apocalyptic image for the start of Advent.  We celebrated the Eucharist in the presence of noisily melting ice, connecting up the ancient liturgies of the Church with the single most profound challenge facing humanity today before joining the People’s Climate Change March, which passed close by.

“Churches Together in Westminster joined us for the evening service when the ice was still melting, contemplating the Advent themes of the end times and the coming of Christ in glory in a service framed by ice and fire”.

More information can be found online about Shrinking the Footprint.


About Communications

The diocesan communications team provides support to the network of clergy, churches, parishes and other worshipping communities that comprises the Diocese of London, as well as to the staff teams of the London Diocesan Fund.

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