Across both our bastion of modern art and the Tate Liverpool are a number of pieces from Aleksandra Mir's Space Tapestry, inspired by the Bayeux Tapestry, exploring modern concepts of space and which, when finished, will be 200 metres long and 3 metres high. The Modern Art Oxford has Earth Observation & Human Spaceflight on display, pieces that explore the satellites in orbit above us and the prospect of civilian space travel. The scope of Mir's work is staggering, the messages she focuses on are hopeful, urgent. The accompanying book is titled 'We can't stop thinking about the future'. Even the absence of humans in the tapestry is given a hopeful spin, as the only people in the space should be us.
Collaboration is at the heart of this new exhibition. Mir herself states that "working with a collective spirit diversifies the palette and the end result is the richer for it." The levels of collaboration on display are magnificent. Not only is it in the displaying of the works across two galleries, but also in the production of the art, with Mir working with over 25 collaborators, all aged 18-24, to produce the expansive work on display. And finally it is the collaboration between art and science, Mir working with various figures for the world of science, and her work funded by the UK Space Agency, the Science and Technology Facilities Council, and the Art Council,
The art on display is on synthetic canvases, produced using black marker pens, held on the wall with pins. But from these modest resources come sweeping works of spacebuses, satellite control centres, and a history of the satellites in visual form. The largest piece on display, 'this is not a satellite, this is an Educated Nation', is 14 metres long and took 2 months to produce. The diversity of strokes in the art range from solid blocks of colour to swirls (that in production were choreographed to the works of Michael Jackson - collaboration stretched to the studio music choice). Using every last drop of the ink in the marker pen allowed for an expansion of the colour palette on display, as well as the quality of the ink, which became watercolour-like. The pieces are playful, with slogans grabbed from private space companies; including 'bring life to technology' and we're ready to take the next giant leap'. Each of these slogans was taken from the UK Space Conference 2015, which took place in
There is a life to this exhibition beyond the epic tapestries on display. As part of their remit the Modern Art Oxford are bringing to their gallery many of the scientists who helped Mir with her research for the Space Tapestry. There are talks and workshops taking place alongside the art throughout the summer and beyond, and it is this that shows the richness of embracing collaboration; it "diversifies the palette".
In a fractured world, a project like Space Tapestry should be embraced and celebrated. It fills the viewer with awe at the magnitude of space, and hope that beyond our differences is the ability to come together. The levels of collaboration on display are staggering and it offers a fascinating through-line to unite art and science, and enhance both. To adapt a statement at the core of this exhibition, this is not an art work, this is an educated nation.