My Morning in the Salt Mines

  20.08.2023 Arts & Culture, Events, Gallery & Exhibitions, Arts & Culture

As I stepped up into the hallowed space of Tarmak22 Gallery (at Gstaad Airport) this Saturday morning, I felt I was being transported into a world where art intertwines with the very fabric of existence as your feet sink into the softness of the vast amount of salt spread all over the gallery floor.

Olympia Scarry's exhibition, aptly named "Sound Travels Faster Under Water," is a testament to the artist's ability to capture the transitory nature of life and emotion through an extraordinary array of mediums.

The artworks on display are as diverse as they are poignant. Agate and onyx pieces, meticulously sculpted to encapsulate the essence of a water droplet caught in crystalline form, evoke the sensation of time suspended within a geological masterpiece. Petrified waves frozen in time remind us of the perpetuity of nature's rhythm, a dance between elements that have endured for millennia.

A most intriguing facet of the exhibition is the delicate marriage of silk and earth, manifested as skeletal residues of liquid movements. These remnants, marked with seismographic imprints in pencil, narrate stories of the earth's dance with water while also alluding to the trace memories left behind by our own existence.

Scarry's exploration of sound's interaction with raw steel is nothing short of captivating. The attempt to etch intangible experiences onto solid surfaces echoes the struggle to capture elusive moments in the grasp of time. These artworks, destined to evolve with the passage of time and the elements, mirror the transitory nature of memory and experience.

The delicate interplay of light and rock, depicted through glass and graphite, offers a visual symphony of tension and release. White noise fractals emerge, uncovering the tension born from tectonic movements, creating a mesmerising choreography of erosion and growth.

In my humble opinion, and the undeniable centrepiece of the exhibition, is the 26 tonnes of fine salt sourced from the saltine in Bex. This salt, a testament to the aeons that have shaped our planet, invites viewers to seek a foothold; as the salt absorbs the sound in the room, you focus and can contemplate the immeasurable passage of time.

A poignant tribute to the cosmic origins of existence is found in Scarry's interpretation of the microwave sky. The reflection of the eternal electromagnetic spectrum onto shifting tides and delicate forms captures the essence of cosmic evolution, marking the transition from the universe's dawn to the present

"Sound Travels Faster Under Water" is (literally) an immersive journey that prompts introspection, and it's clear that Scarry's fascination with materiality and its enigmatic metamorphoses drives this collection. Her art, a testament to the interplay between thought, substance, and the intangible, casts a spotlight on the ambiguous nature of power, decay, and the passage of time. From agate to salt, silk to steel, every medium unveils its own chapter in the grand narrative of existence. To me, and perhaps slightly inspired by the Menuhin fever, it does not feel like just any exhibition; it's a multi-sensory symphony that resonates long after the last footsteps fade.

Jeanette Wichmann

The exhibition is open until 10 September 2023. Wednesday to Sunday: 11am – 6pm and also by appointment. T: 079 909 4657 & Instagram: olympiascarry and check out her gallery:

About the Artist

Olympia Scarry is a visionary artist who has carved a distinctive niche in the art world. With an affinity for the breathtaking landscapes of Gstaad, Switzerland, Scarry has not only found an artistic muse in this picturesque setting but has also left an indelible mark on the cultural tapestry of the region.

Born with a profound artistic inclination, as the grand- and daughter of Richard and Huck Scarry, her journey led her back to the Gstaad region. Here she expressed in her art the profound connection between her creative vision and the natural beauty that surrounded her. The alpine landscapes, changing seasons, and serene ambience of Gstaad have significantly influenced her artistic expression.

Scarry's most notable venture in Gstaad is her co-founding of "Elevation 1049," a groundbreaking platform that seamlessly bridges contemporary art with the natural environment. As a co-founder, Scarry has spearheaded the curation of exhibitions, installations, and events that challenge traditional boundaries and reimagine the relationship between art and nature. Elevation 1049

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