In The Ritual, commissioned by Museums at Night for their 2016 national festival, Aowen brought the magic of Chinese spiritual tradition alive within Compton Verney and their 17th Century Capability Brown chapel by creating a massive phosphorescent rice field installation which visitors explored with UV torches, played in and used to create their own sparkling art works.
The Ritual was an installation artwork that was commissioned by Culture24 with funding from the Arts Council for the biannual national Museums at Night Festival.
For the festival – which has previously hosted artists such as Rankin, Spencer Tunick and Grayson Perry – national galleries compete for the chance to work with one of six selected leading contemporary artists. After a public vote, the art gallery Compton Verney won the competition to host Aowen’s installation, and Aowen chose their 17th Century chapel – built by famous landscape architect Capability Brown – as the location for the work.
Aowen created her installation from one tonne of rice, which was specially treated with three different UV paints. She used it to create a dynamic, interactive artwork in the chapel which viewers could explore using UV torches, and which they could shape and change themselves as the exhibition progressed.
Aowen explained: "Compton Verney has an amazing nationally-designated collection of ancient Chinese Bronze. Many of these objects are related to rice - for storage, for cooking, for drinking rice wine - and much of Chinese culture, along with our festival and seasonal calendar is all based around the cycle of rice planting and harvesting. So I really wanted to create a contemporary artwork that showed the soft culture behind these hard objects - and how China's legacy as an agricultural society, and therefore also the objects in the museum, influenced contemporary China today.”
Compton Verney Art Gallery & Chapel
October 22nd, 2016
Alongside the main artwork Aowen curated and organised a number of important activities which engaged the local community more deeply with the installation and the topics it addressed: