Medusa, Installations and Fire!


Silhouettes of the perishing crew



The students sit down as one stands to sing

Our BA Fine Art students have just completed a large scale project to produce a life size installation of ‘The Raft of Medusa’. French artist Théodore Géricault was a painter from the Romantic movement and created an over-sized painting of a monumental tragedy and scandal – a shipwreck, where the Captain abandoned his crew and left them to die, ‘The Raft of Medusa’. You can find resources about Géricault and French Romanticism at 750.92 GER and 750.4 in Library two.

Our Fine Art students took to pallets and various other materials to create a 20 metre x 7 metre raft of their own! They created a performance installation which took over our largest sculpture studio and involved 140 people! Combining media, sound, vocals and performance with their set, their raft sunk and the crew perished – as one by one the students dismounted the raft as their photo came up on the screen.

With our Fine Art students getting their large, creative, thinking caps on, I decided to go and see the French Street Art Company ‘Carabosse’, who also work on large scale installations, at Bournemouth’s ‘Arts By The Sea festival’. The festival runs from 26th Sept – 12th Oct 2014 and is a collaboration between numerous partners to celebrate National and International arts; from visual and performance arts to film, theatre and literature.

Although I have seen Carabosse’s ‘Fire Installations’ a few times now, I just couldn’t resist another show! Compagnie Carabosse are made up of artists, sculptors, musicians, inventors and poets. Their work is often large scale, accessible to everyone and always free. They change the perspective of an area or location, setting it alive and reclaiming a message of liberty, whilst creating a new space to explore. They bring poetry and encounters to a space and transform the environment in to something really quite magical.

The turning sculptures of Carabosse

The turning sculptures of Carabosse

Entering the gardens, you feel as though you are joining a fantastical world of enchantment. Glistening fire lights stretched across the park, from small hanging lanterns and fire pits to huge scale globes, pivoting spirals and a flower sculpture, which opened and closed with its mechanics releasing water as it started again. Floating on the water surrounding the park were long trails of flaming coals, mimicking some sort of swimming dragon, with more fire pits and lanterns. The reflections in the water and how they use water with their sculptures, bring these two elements together in the most spectacular way.

The craftsmanship and clockwork mechanisms put together by these artists is intricate and detailed. Their sculptures play with audience interaction and response by engaging us with their kinetic or mechanical features. One moving sculpture gathered quite a crowd with a sequence of knock-on motions, started off by a penguin popping a water filled balloon! Weights topple, balls roll and poles swing, with more water slowly filling up the huge balloon in the middle until ‘BANG’, it bursts, splashing the crowd!

They had tubes with fire balls which puff out the top and 8ft tube sculptures dotted around the park with cut out, glowing symbols. Each tube has been carved by a different artist, creating a kind of story and meaning as their cut-out details flicker and fade. Each one holds a 5kg ‘candle’ of parafin wax at the base, which is timed perfectly to burn for 2.5-3 hours.

Carabosse create an environment of freedom and community and bring an element of our heritage, a relationship with fire to us beautifully; through spectacle, sculpture and interactive installation. Our resources on Installation Art can be found in Library one at 709.04074.

Click on the links to find out more details about our Fine Art courses, search our library catalogue, or for more details about Arts By The Sea festival.


Carabosse at the Winter Gardens

Carabosse at the Winter Gardens


Artwork of Medusa







Robynne Willowby, October 2014