Duncan Carey


Carey Duncan | Arte Laguna PrizeCarey Duncan
Johannesburg, South Africa 1963

Sunflower stakes

Art section: Land Art

Year: 2019

Materials: Wood, stone

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This project on an industrial site started as a landscape commission but in response to several constraints, turned into more of an artistic expression of a field of sunflowers. The site is the power block of the Noor solar power station in the Solar Complex Noor, Ouarzazate in the south of Morocco. The fact that using the water necessary for plant growth attracts snakes and scorpions in this arid environment gave rise to two major considerations: the power block is where human activity and offices are located; natural predators are discouraged by the heat generated around the solar captors. The idea of using living plants in this challenging environment was therefore ruled out. Instead, I sought to capture the essence of a living landscape and immediately thought of sunflowers which, like the solar captors, follow the sun. The shape of the petals was adapted to reflect the Moroccan geometric zellij designs synonymous with Moroccan architecture and design. By morphing the form of a sunflower’s petals into a known geometric shape used extensively in Moroccan art and architecture, the dialectic between nature and culture was expressed. To increase the legibility of the project for a viewer on the ground, stone bands were laid out in a geometric pattern. Wooden posts were used with a slanted top, painted in bright yellow and all facing in the same direction emulating the natural phenomenon of sunflowers in a field all facing in the same direction. Wood was preferred over metal to introduce a natural plant-derived, material in this tough industrial setting. The wodden posts are derived by the recycling of disfused wodden telephone poles cut down to size.