London-based artist Anne Hardy has transformed the façade of Tate Britain with apocalyptic Christmas decorations to reflect the climate crisis. Tate Britain’s annual winter commission is now a highly anticipated festive event for art aficionados across the city.
“Anne Hardy has created something that is at once fantastically imaginative and urgently topical,” explained Alex Farquharson, director of Tate Britain, “reminding us not only of the changing seasons but also of the changing climate.”
‘The Depth of Darkness, The Return of the Light’ is a large-scale sculptural installation located on the Milbank entrance of the museum. Its title is inspired by pagan tales of the winter solstice, which is the darkest moment of the year.
Combining eerie sounds and dramatic lighting to make the entrance look like a marooned temple, the thought-provoking work makes a powerful statement about rising sea levels. Objects representing litter from the oceans appear to cascade down the grand steps. As part of the commission, Hardy also created a 21-minute quadrophonic sound piece.
“The work is a proposition to think about reality now in a different way, by manifesting other potential realities of this site that might have been in the past, or might be in the future,” clarified Hardy.
Visitors approaching the entrance will be bombarded with the noises of crashing thunder, breaking ice, and buzzing insects. By sporadically draping strings of lilac lights alongside hanging strips of shredded white material, Hardy subverts the idea of traditional Christmas decorations.
“The light and sound elements of the work are site-specific and have been choreographed in situ to give the impression that the building has become possessed,” described a project statement.
Each year, Tate Britain commissions contemporary artists to create a novel showpiece for the festive season. In 2018 Monster Chetwynd installed two giant sculptures of leopard slugs, which celebrated their nocturnal mating rituals and “reminds us that the darkness of winter can be a time of renewal and rebirth.”
Hardy’s art practice includes photography, sculptural installation and audio. Her constructed environments immerse viewers in abstracted sensory experiences, with the Tate Britain installation being her most ambitious piece to date.
‘The Depth of Darkness, The Return of the Light’ will be installed at Tate Britain from 30 November to 26 January.