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1st September 2017

Water: Q&A with Kirsi Enkovaara

From tidemarks on the walls of flood-prone streets to rain streaks on slate tile roofs, water can leave its mark on the urban environment long after it has disappeared. It’s this idea that has inspired Finnish designer Kirsi Enkovaara to experiment with water as a means of developing surface texture, the results of which will be on show as part of aquatic LDF exhibition Water at Peckham’s Copeland Gallery.

Based between her South London studio and Bangkok (where she develops products for Thai lifestyle brand Jim Thompson), RCA graduate Kirsi’s practice often hinges on experimental processes. Her recent project, The Body Seat, is a malleable 6m length of rice-filled fabric that can be manipulated to suit the individual sitter and, because of the tension between rice and fabric, becomes rigid when weight is added. Other recent projects include a collection of concrete furniture moulded by the body and a series of mirrors that distort the viewer’s reflection with surreal results.

Describing her experiments for the LDF show as “paintings”, Kirsi’s project Landscapes of Water uses H2O to create impressions via two different techniques. The first is a three-dimensional marbling process that visualises the movement of ebbing water and the second harnesses water pressure to mould rough patterns into plaster. Ahead of Water, which opens at the Copeland Gallery on 19 September, we caught up with Kirsi to get to grips with her inventive processes.
What inspired Landscapes of Water?
My project explores the interaction between the built environment and water. Its a reaction to the fact that all naturally occurring patterns obey the same laws of nature and that these natural aesthetics occur everywhere in the universe. 

Can you tell me a bit more about how the 3D marbling technique will work?
I started to explore this technique during my studies in the Royal College of Art when I was researching how to visualise invisible natural elements like water and air. In all my work I try to capture a moment, therefore a lot of techniques I use or invent use ad hoc methods and can be repeated with standard household equipment. The only materials and equipment necessary for this 3D marbling technique is water, oil based ink and a vessel with a hole in the bottom to place the water to. I use a traditional marbling technique for this process, but instead of placing the material on top of the paint, I let the water drain out from the vessel, meaning the water movement creates the pattern. 
How have you developed the water pressure ‘painting’?
The water pressure technique uses a garden hose to recreate natural water pressure. It captures the moment when the water hits the ground and starts to travel. I use household equipment such as a garden hose, water and a mould to let the water sculpt a shape in plaster. The end result pattern is dictated by water, so it is always a surprise. In the exhibited surfaces will be interventions made by human to highlight the story of how artificial and organic find a way to exist together. 

What concepts are you exploring with this piece?
I am interested in how natural phenomenons exist in our urbanised environment and how nature always finds its own way to follow its own laws, regardless of humans. All naturally occurring patterns obey the same laws of nature and those same natural aesthetics occur everywhere in the universe. We live surrounded by natural laws. How water behaves is dictated by these laws. It runs down the hill, changes its from from liquid to solid to mist. In the end we have no control of it and that is the beauty of this material. It seems unpredictable and organic but its highly mathematical and obedient. To me water presents itself as a mysterious, ever-changing material even though I know it follows a strict behavioural pattern. I think that is why I find water so interesting: I cannot predict or control it.

Visit Water at Copeland Gallery from 19 – 24 September. For more info visit www.waterexhibition.co.uk
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