14 October 2021

Artist Dr Michael Pinsky has been narrowly pipped at the post in his televised quest to create a new landmark for his native Scotland.

The University of East London fine art lecturer was pitted against two other artists in a regional heat of Landmark, a Sky Arts project aiming to create new public art.

Viewers watched Dr Pinsky at work at the University's Docklands Campus where he created The Hood, a climate sensitive pergola with an inverted conical roof that draws rainfall into the centre of a structure to sustain a peat bog. 

He told viewers, "My work for at the least the past 20 years has been about how people choose to live together in a harmonious way and that’s moved over the years to think more specifically about the environment and the crisis we're in. Now it's very becoming very more focused explicitly around climate change.

"The great thing about art is, instead of sitting around and moaning with friends you can make a piece of work and try and change government policy."

His creation was worked from a single piece of oak, with bark still attached. Viewers watched Dr Pinsky and his team overcome a number of logistical challenges to bring the piece together in a short timeframe of two weeks.

The judges were impressed with the ultimate result. 

Clare Lilley, curator and director of programme at the Yorkshire Sculpture Park said the pergola was an "amazing sensory environment, activated by the wind, sun, rain and, ultimately, the earth".

Artist and fellow judge Hetain Patel said, "It's beautiful to look out - you want to get inside. It feels inviting and intriguing."

However, the judges selected Annie Cattrell's Compass to go forward into the national finals. She had created a cross moulded in jesmonite, creating a link to Scotland's James Hutton, the founder of modern geology.  

Afterwards, Dr Pinsky said, "It shows you can do things in two weeks - you think you can't but if you have to. Every bit of work here feels like a fully-fledged piece of work."

His work, though, continues to draw an audience. It resides in grounds near Young Enterprise Scotland, near Glasgow, where it inspires visitors -  and gives them a place to meet and chat, as he had originally planned.

Meanwhile, Dr Pinsky's Pollution Pods, an installation dramatising air quality environments around the world, has been on show in Docklands Campus before heading off to feature at the COP26 climate conference in Glasgow.

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