Kelly Richardson dazzles at the Northern Gallery for Contemporary Art and Whitley Bay

By Ben Miller | 06 July 2012
An image of a computer generated vision of fireballs raining down across countryside
Kelly Richardson, Exiles of the Shattered Star (2006)© Kelly Richardson
Exhibitions: Kelly Richardson – Mariner 9, The Spanish City Dome, Whitley Bay, North Tyneside, August 3-19 2012; Orion Tide, National Glass Centre, Sunderland, until September 9 2012; Legion, Northern Gallery for Contemporary Art, Sunderland, until September 29 2012

Kelly Richardson's new commission for this show, The Great Destroyer, has taken five years to complete, wrapping the viewer in an endless forest via an eight-screen installation full of the sounds of animals, insects and a lyrebird imitating a car alarm, camera shutters clicking, gunshots and a chainsaw.

If it sounds ambitious, it's hardly a deviation from form for an artist first recognised for a work, Exiles of the Shattered Star, in which glowing fireballs slowly rained down on the Lake District in a volatile precursor to an impending catastrophe caused, Richardson suggested, by a distant sun or man-made missiles.

And for her next trick amid 15 years of creative virtuosity, Richardson presents Leviathan, a no-less utopian "futurescape" replete with bare Cypress trees submerged in sticky yellow water dripping from - take your pick - ice caps, an oil spill or a nuclear disaster.

Over at Whitley Bay, Mariner 9 is a 12-metre long panoramic intended as a human-scale version of Mars a century or two from now, timed to coincide with NASA's Mars Science Laboratory, Curiosity, landing to earth in August.

The Red Planet becomes a battlefield of spacecraft which are either ruined or battling the dust storm they find themselves at the centre of, transmitting data back to an empty planet.

Richardson's vision of Mars is informed by space science imagery and technical data, augmented by generation software used by the film and gaming industries in a painstaking replication of the geology, weather patterns and sounds martians enjoy.

She's also drafted a new large-scale photographic print of a spacecraft-littered desert landscape, called Orion Tide, into the National Glass Centre in Sunderland.

Richardson has shown work at the Beijing, Gwangju and Busan biennales and the Sundance Film Festival. This three-pronged escapade in the north-east is perhaps an overdue debut in England, and its cinematic grandiosity should show us the scale of what we've been missing.

  • National Glass Centre open 10am-5pm. Admission free. Northern Gallery for Contemporary Art open 9.30am-5pm (7.30pm Monday and Wednesday, 4pm Saturday, closed Sunday and August 25 and 27). Admission free.

More pictures:

An image of a computer-generated picture of a glowing green deer in a neon forest
Twilight Avenger (2007)© Kelly Richardson
An image of a computer generated vision of utopian rubble covered in spacecraft
Mariner 9 (2012)© Kelly Richardson
An image of a darkened gallery illuminated by screens showing forests glowing under lights
Leviathan (2011)
© Kelly Richardson
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