Ann-Margreth Bohl


Ann-Margreth Bohl is known for her abstract stone carving, installations using beeswax,
wooden frames, light and sound.
Recent graphite drawings on black card are rooted in her childhood experiences of light in
sacral spaces.
Her style is minimal and direct, yet ephemeral.
‘Lichtspielhaus’ 2014 a black room with a backlit beeswax wall, aimed to give the viewer an
immersive experience of the material beeswax with its smell and warm yellow light
penetrating a confined black space.
‘3x3x3’ 2016 in this site specific underground light installation the viewer had to enter
through a narrow entrance to reach a confined dark space where kinetic wooden frames
cast mesmerizing shadow projections on the end wall of a cellar.
Walls have fascinated Bohl for as long as she can remember “I grew up close to the wall
dividing east and west Germany and visited often, I could not understand why I was able to
look across the wall ‘Die Mauer’ but was not allowed to walk across.”
Her work is heavily influenced by the likes of James Turrell, Richard Serra, Giuseppe Penone
and Pierre Soulages. As a keen collaborator, Bohl has developed projects with fellow
sculptors, composers and sound designers.
During 2017 she was commissioned by landscape and garden designer Paul Hervey-Brookes
to create ‘Passing Light’ a sculpture/installation, exploring the passage of time through the
movement of light and shadow through and around a solid wall, this public sculpture was
made of corten steel and will be permanently displayed at the National Memorial
Arboretum from October 2017.


Dimensions : 300 cm x 300 cm x 300 cm (Height, Width, Depth)
Weight : 50 kg
Year : 2015
Material : Installation, Light
Style : social, interactive

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Visitors to this year’s Royal Horticultural Society Show Garden at Chatsworth House, Derbyshire, will witness a highly unusual event. A monumental stone sculpture, which will be on display in the garden, is similar to Stonehenge and other ancient sites that are lit up on particular days of the year: it is precisely aligned with the movements of the sun. At an exact moment, 4.30PM on Saturday 9 June, the shadows cast by the sun will fit perfectly with outlines of shadows that are carved into the stone. The sculpture, which is named Holocene after the current geological epoch, takes the form of a series of large sandstone blocks, which come from the Chatsworth estate. Like a large sundial, the blocks cast a complex pattern of shadows at different times of day, meaning that the work repays spending time with and revisiting. Some of the blocks also have carved into them, in deep relief, the outline of the shadows that will be falling on them at a precise moment of time: this has been worked out exactly using computer modelling. The creator of Holocene is Stroud-based sculptor Ann-Margreth Bohl, working with digital designer Dan Hughes McGrail and stone carver Danny Evans. Much of Ann-Margreth’s previous work, which includes previous commissions for the RHS and the National Memorial Arboretum, has also explored themes of light and shadow, change and the passing of time. By using stone from the Chatsworth estate, Holocene’s carbon footprint is kept to a minimum. The work in a sense comes from the Derbyshire landscape (where quarrying has historically been an important industry), and it is due to return to it: after the blocks have been displayed in the RHS Show Garden, they will stay on the Chatsworth estate.
Ann-Margreth Bohl, Installation, Stone
Passing Light
A striking new monumental sculpture is going up at the National Memorial Arboretum: an imposing wall, some three metres high and fifteen metres long, with a series of cracks and grooves cut into it, designed to cast a complex and changing pattern of shadows as the sun moves across the sky. The sculpture, entitled Passing Light, is the work of Stroud-based artist Ann-Margreth Bohl. ‘It’s like some bonkers Stonehenge’, she says: ‘like some of those ancient sites, this also is a time piece. It’s an outdoor installation that unfolds in time, looking very different at different times of day. That means that it repays spending time with it, or revisiting it. So it suits the National Memorial Arboretum: a place where people go again and again, to grieve or to remember.’ Passing Light was commissioned by the renowned Stroud-based garden designer Paul Hervey-Brookes, who wanted it initially for the IQ Quarry Garden at the RHS Chatsworth Flower Show in the grounds of Chatsworth House, Derbyshire. Ironically, Ann-Margreth was commissioned on the very day that Donald Trump was elected President, with his plans for a very different kind of wall. Ann-Margreth’s brief was just to make a wall with an incision or crack in it: other than that, she had freedom to do pretty much what she liked. She chose to focus on the shadows cast by the wall, and the contrast between what seems solid and the ephemeral effects of light as it plays upon it. ‘The work I’d done before is all to do with light, shadow and form, so it fitted really well.’ Passing Light was originally intended to be in stone, but the final version is made of rusted Corten steel (a preservation order was placed on the Chatsworth stone that Ann-Margreth had planned to use, meaning that it couldn’t be taken away from the Chatsworth Estate – a problem, given that she knew from the outset that Passing Light was to have an afterlife at the National Memorial Garden). Being steel, it will age quicker than it would if it was made of stone – as well as the light changing from moment to moment, over time the material of the wall will change too. For Ann-Margreth this is a new departure: never before has she made work on such a large scale. While she has worked collaboratively in the past (including with Stroud-based composer Emily Hall, and sound designer David Sheppard at the London Sinfonietta), making Passing Light meant working especially closely with others, and in particular with local digital designer Dan Hughes McGrail, who made a computer animation showing how the shifting shadows would be cast by the wall, and who translated Ann-Margreth’s models for Passing Light into something that could be used by architects and structural engineers, to create a monument that won’t fall over. ‘For something that weighs tons, and that is a public artwork, you really need to think that through.’ Walls have a particular significance for Ann-Margreth: she grew up in Germany near the wall between the East and West. ‘That was one of my core inspirations. As a child I would look over the wall and see the guys with machine guns, and all the houses painted the same colour. I always make a point of returning there when I go back to Germany.’ That wall is no longer there (it, too, having proved to be ephemeral), and the former ‘death strip’ between East and West is now a haven for wildlife. Another of Ann-Margreth’s strongest influences is the fact that she grew up a Catholic: ‘I would spend hours in church, looking at the light coming through the windows, and seeing how it would hit the sculptures.’ Time is also a major theme. Ann-Margreth, who works a great deal in stone (and also teaches stone carving at New Brewery Arts in Cirencester), says that she finds it ‘an amazing material – it’s so old, and you’re aware of the time it encapsulates. If I discover something in a piece of stone as I carve away, I know that I’m the first person ever to have seen it. It’s a magical thing. And as you get older, time gets to be a big subject for you. How little our time is here, how important it is to be aware that everything is passing, and how you must make the most of every day. In my work I can translate some of that: Passing Light is a monument to something that can’t be held, or that is moving through.’ Finally, the transitory nature of life is something that was impressed on Ann-Margreth at a young age. ‘In my early twenties I trained as a paediatric nurse, working with terminally ill children. Being with children who are dying, and seeing how short their life is – it was a hard job to do. But from an early age it made me think “I’ve got to make the most of this.” Since then, with the support of a lot of people, I’ve been able to carve out my life. It’s like the old sundials, which often had mottoes carved into them saying “don’t waste time” – you have to be aware that everything is ephemeral. My work taps into that.’ When Passing Light was on display at Chatsworth, Ann-Margreth was able to sit, unobserved, and hear what visitors said about it. ‘The punters would come in and they would say things, and I would sit with my little notebook, writing down their comments. There was one that touched me deeply: a woman said “you know what, this reminds me of when we went to Berlin. Do you remember the wall there, and how they had taken everything down? It really reminds me of that.” And that in a way is where this all comes from. Sometimes as an artist you question whether what you do is worth it, but when it can trigger a thought in somebody else, for me that’s the biggest gift that I can give.’
Ann-Margreth Bohl, Metal, Light
See Through Squares
Collaboration with composers Emily Hall and David Sheppard commissioned by London Sinfonietta Based on the idea of a wind chime we developed a instrument measuring its own movement. A exciting challenge to create a ‘machine’ with the ability to collect a variety of data, initiating layers of music, visuals and shadow projections.
Ann-Margreth Bohl, Performance, Light
For You
Interactive light installation, exploring human connection and interaction with light.
Ann-Margreth Bohl, Mixed Media, Wood
Underground kinetic light installation, moving shadows creating rhythmic optical illusions.
Ann-Margreth Bohl, Wood, Light
Lumen (the name comes from the standard unit for measuring light) was inspired by two recent journeys. The first was to Portland in Dorset, where Ann-Margreth first began stone-carving (‘I feel a very strong connection to the place’). Looking at cut blocks that were left in the old Portland stone quarries, Ann-Margreth became interested in the spaces between them: ‘I watched how the light moves round in them, at different times of day. A void can be a space where a lot of things are happening.’ The second journey was to Iceland, where Ann-Margreth was fascinated by the abandoned shell of an airliner, which had been left sitting on the black sand of a volcano after it was forced to crash-land, in the Seventies (no-one died). Light coming through the square windows into the dark and empty fuselage again changes the spaces in between. Lumen plays with some of these ideas. It features four limestone blocks cut into a series of angular planes. There are subtle variations in the angles in the white stone, each of which is like the angle of sunlight at a given moment, as if it were making solid something that is usually fleeting. ‘It’s like I’ve frozen the movement of the light,’ says Ann-Margreth. ‘As humans we can’t do anything to stop time, but we often try.’ The white blocks rest on a bed of black sand: an echo of the Icelandic volcano. For all their precision, the blocks are carved by hand, using Ann-Margreth’s own distinctive method of measuring and calculating angles. For Ann-Margreth, there’s a pleasing paradox here: ‘working in an immortal material, but using it to represent something as ephemeral as the movement of light’. There’s also something of the Zen garden about the installation: ‘you need to spend a bit of time with it.’ Ann-Margreth has recently been working on a much bigger scale, with her three-metre-tall sculpture Passing Light, for the National Memorial Arboretum. Lumen, too, could serve as a model for something much larger.
Ann-Margreth Bohl, Light, Stone
Wir sind der Atmosphäre dieses Planeten ausgesetzt und bewegen uns - mehr oder weniger bewusst - zwischen Tag und Nacht, Licht und Dunkelheit. Wir unterliegen der Schwerkraft und durch unseren, in Jahrtausenden erworbenen aufrechten Gang hinterlassen wir ganz spezifische Spuren auf dem Boden, den wir mit unseren Füßen berühren. Abhängig vom Untergrund vermag unser Fußabdruck eine Zeitlang zu überdauern, bis er von den Elementen wieder verwischt oder unkenntlich gemacht wird. Doch ab und zu konserviert eine bestimmte chemische Zusammensetzung unsere Spuren, die wir hinterlassen und zeigt uns wie in einem Zeitspiegel der Morphologie das, was uns antrieb, bewegte, bzw. unsere Bewegung charakterisiert(e). Künstler sind stets auf der Suche nach dem geeigneten Material, um ihr ganz persönliches Verhältnis zur Welt und ihren Fragen an diese zu klären. Oft nimmt es Jahre, Jahrzehnte in Anspruch, bis die Suche nach der einfachsten und zugleich für den Künstler komplexen Lösung glückt und das geeignete Material für die großen Fragen an das Leben gefunden ist. Ann-Margreth Bohl ist fasziniert von der Kraft und Kreativität der Natur. Diesem Faszinosum eine Form geben, den eigenen Gedanken zu Materie und Raum passende Materialien an die Seite zu stellen ist für einen Künstler kein leichtes Unterfangen. Wind und Wellen sowie Temperaturunterschiede bearbeiten unablässig bereits geformte, harte Materie. Und selbst diese harte Materie hat extreme Verwandlungen von einem flüssigen in einen harten Zustand hinter sich. Starre Formen existieren im Grunde nicht. Auch wenn bestimmte Materialzusammensetzungen nur zögerlich in einen anderen Zustand übergehen, ist doch das irdene Material, mit dem wir als Menschen leben, stetiger Verwandlung unterworfen. Auch wenn die temporären Veränderungen einem einigen Menschen in seiner begrenzten Lebenszeit verborgen bleiben, ist Material als solches unablässiger Transformation in einen anderen Zustand des Seins unterworfen. Um dieser unablässigen Metamorphose materiell zu entsprechen, hat sich Ann-Margreth Bohl für zwei Materialien entschieden, die unterschiedlicher nicht sein können – und daher den stetigen Wechsel, die stetige Veränderung symbolisieren: Stein und Bienenwachs. Beide Materialien sind Baumaterialien und verkörpern – im Vergleich miteinander – auf den ersten Blick diametrale Eigenschaften. Stein ist hart, undurchsichtig und widersetzt sich zunächst der Bearbeitung. Bienenwachs ist weich, zum Teil lichtdurchlässig und recht schnell im erkalteten Zustand in die gewünschte Form zu bringen. Auf den ersten Blick verbindet beide Materialien nichts. Auf den zweiten Blick besitzt Stein/Gestein einige der in situ nicht mehr erkennbaren Eigenschaften des Bienenwachses. Beide Materialien sind im Grund genommen Energiespeicher. Enorme Hitze oder Druck formte die Materie „Stein“. Die Zusammensetzung von Fauna und/oder Energiespeicher - Original text Flora vor der „Metamorphose“ des Ausgangsmaterials bestimmt den Härte- und Dichtegrad der verschiedenen Gesteinsformen. Bienenwachs, erzeugt durch Transformation von floraler mittels tierischer Energie, ist ein Energiespeicher, der die Umwandlung weicher, duftender Stoffe zum Ausdruck bringt. Stein und Bienenwachs beinhalten – auch wenn beide Materialien unähnlich erscheinen - Gestalt gewordenen Energiefluss und beherbergen beide eines, das im Werk von Ann-Margreth Bohl ein außerordentlich wichtiger Faktor ist: Zeit. Zeit hinterlässt Spuren. Den Gedanken eine Form geben, der eigenen Philosophie adäquate Materialität verschaffen – dies ist eine große Herausforderung. Ann-Margreth Bohl hat diese Herausforderung angenommen und arbeitet mit zwei Antipoden, die allerdings beides gemeinsam haben: einen Zeitspeicher auch für Energie. Das macht ihre Arbeiten auf den ersten Blick so schnell entschlüsselbar. Auf den zweiten Blick ist der Betrachter dazu aufgerufen, die Widersprüche innerhalb der Materialien zu entschlüsseln, um sich dann einen eigenen Blick zu verschaffen. Das Verhältnis von Zeit zu Material, von prägen und geprägt werden, von langsamer bis schneller Einwirkung auf Oberflächen, von Reflektion über Gewesenes, das Abrücke hinterlassen hat, die man nun gleichsam selbst wieder bearbeitet ... all ́ das sind mögliche Blicke auf ein klares, konzeptuelles Werk. Der ästhetische Reiz der Oberfläche ist nur die erste Hülle, die es zu entschlüsseln gilt. Das Betrachten der Stein-Wachs-Formationen gerät zu einem Eintauchen in Energiespeicher. Ann-Margreth Bohl bietet Formen an, die durch Betreten, Betrachten, Beatmen sich in einem unaufhörlichen Prozess der Veränderung befinden.
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