Growing Portraits with Grass | That’s Amazing

Growing Portraits with Grass | That’s Amazing

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(upbeat music) – [Narrator] Grass is
something we take for granted. We walk all over it, lay on it, and sometimes mow it down. Most of us don’t give it much thought. Few of us appreciate it
the way that Dan Harvey and Heather Ackroyd do . – I think we create these pieces partly because just love actually the
magic of seeing them in print and come to life and grow. The British artists blur the lines between science, nature and art by manipulating the nature
processes that fuel life itself to create their canvases. – [Dan] You’re actually
imbuing it with this energy and creating with life. They’re almost Day-Glo images
when you first see them. They are very, very beautiful. (upbeat music) – If you actually look at what’s happened in the last 25 years, if you look at what’s happened
in the last five years, mega flooding scenarios- – [Dan] Severe weather
events are happening time and time and time again and
increasingly more frequently. – And the science is very, very clear and unambiguous about this. So our work is very much embraced around processes of change, around nature, around biodiversity laws,
around climate change. From the very first time that Dan and I started to work together, it was within our sight,
it’s not necessarily a direct action or activism. Sometimes pieces are
very, very poetic. (upbeat music) We maybe only do one, one or two photosynthesis works a year. I think what’s interesting is is that we’re not working with lawn or with sod or with turf, we work with the seed. (upbeat music) – [Narrator] Dan and Heather germinate their seeds for about two weeks. When ready, they’re
rubbed onto the canvas, held in place by water paste. – [Heather] We’re not carving or sculpting in that more traditional sense. We’re growing. – [Dan] The image sort of
develops over the period of weeks. To grow one of our pieces,
we grow the grass vertically, then we turn the whole
of the studio space here into a dark room and so the only light that the grass receives as it’s growing is from the projected, negative image. So where the strongest
light hits the grass, it produces more the chlorophyll,
more of the green pigment. Where there’s less light, it’s less green. Where’s there’s no light, it grows, but it’s intonated and yellow. So you get the equivalent to
a black and white photograph but in terms of green to yellow. – [Heather] Portraits we tend to do around six foot by four foot or maybe seven foot by five foot in this case. We can work really, really large scale. What’s great about that is that it’s not, it’s not sized in a gratuitous way. Actually the resolution we get is really, really extraordinary, it’s phenomenal. If you equate a chlorophyll
molecule with a pixel, then we’re getting kind
of like many more pixels per kinda like square foot. – The detail you can get on the large
ones is absolutely fantastic. – [Heather] It’s part of
a process of discovery. As artists you’re looking
to make discoveries within the materials and
mediums that you work with. And light, and seeds, water, crystals, all of those are kinda of part of our palette of materials
that we play with. – [Narrator] If watered regularly and kept at low light levels, these grass portraits
can last indefinitely. – [Dan] There’s something
about seeing the way that they grow and they
sort of materialize in front of you really and, you don’t really get to see
them until the last moment really when you can put the lights up. (upbeat music) – Oh wow. Grass me up. (laughter) – I feel that this piece has
got a real strength about it. I think the person we
photograph and their youth just has this real kinda connection with the camera and
he’s somebody who cares passionately about what he’s doing. It’s like a watercolor, the color
grazes through it you know. That’s very, very beautiful. – I’m still a bit taken
aback by how it’s grass. – [Heather] I know, I know. We’re really, really pleased with it. We’re really pleased with
the way that it’s grown.

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