I created a colour installation for the South Hall staircase, applying large areas of colour directly onto the walls, and heightening the viewer's experience of the space as they walk past the three pairs of colours at different levels.
Images Jonathan Waring
Review by Camilla Zajac:
"Sheila Ravnkilde's 'Art on the South Stairs' at the Castle is a subtle statement of the physical presence and power of colour."
"She seeks to affect the experience of the viewer in both looking at and experiencing this particular space. "
"A local landmark can become so familiar that it ceases to be seen as a space. The interior of Nottingham Castle Museum is distinctive, but the focus often remains on the exhibitions on show.
Seeing this space afresh is the aim behind Sheila Ravnkilde’s latest colour installation. It’s a nice touch to commission a locally based artist to respond to this well-known landmark in Nottingham’s historic landscape.
Ranvkilde’s installation consists of three pairs of colours, each painted onto a wall of the Castle’s South Hall Staircase. It is a continuation of Ravnkilde’s long-standing preoccupation with the relationship between architectural space and colour.
As with her previous installations in the East Midlands and further afield, she seeks to affect the experience of the viewer in both looking at and experiencing this particular space.
Created on three walls, the installation has turned the Castle’s South Hall staircase into an ascending triptych of colour. The simple shapes and sharp colours contrast well with this grand space.
The colours are above eye level so the viewer must look up and see the full depth of the staircase and the broad scale of the walls. The boxes of colour fit exactly with the space on a horizontal level, but vertically float above the eye line, creating a feeling of harmonious suspension. As well as feeding this space with pure colour, the work points out the balance behind its architecture.
Ravnkilde’s focus is on revisiting the familiar, but for many visitors the Castle is not a familiar space and the impact of the work may not be obvious. Perhaps this subtle kind of piece works best on the basis of familiarity, in a workspace or everyday space that is regularly revisited, as with Ranvkilde’s work for Nottingham’s Angel Row Gallery street level window in 2005.
In these works, the power lies in the force of colour to restate a place, with much of this impact resting in familiarity. The Castle, whilst it is a well loved local attraction, is not one that most of us revisit frequently enough to fully recognise what Ravnkilde has done.
However, the aim of the piece is not simply to restate space for those who know it, but also to draw attention to it as a space in its own right. Standing upstairs in one of the main exhibition spaces, as the automatic doors open, you notice a sudden flash of salmon pink.
At ground floor level your eye is drawn upwards, by colour, to the full height and grandeur of the walls. The harmony of these paired colours creates a temple-like sense of presence.
Ravnkilde’s installation reminds us that this historic staircase would originally have been created to impress and inspire, rather than simply to be used as a thoroughfare to other parts of the building.
Focusing on one aspect of the space makes for an interesting and unusual experience of Nottingham Castle.
Instead of an exhibition space, we experience the three dimensions of the building, its architectural features, its outsize scale.
Ravnkilde’s installation reminds how space unmarked is often space unremarked. This kind of work is a quiet call to sit still and experience the space. It’s also a subtle statement of the physical presence and power of colour."