Burning Buildings

I hated Chemistry at school. Seeing things fizz (peanut in a bunsen burner, a chunk of liver in hydrochloric acid) was the only thing that piqued my interest long enough for me to raise my head from it’s horizontal station on top of my textbooks – even then, the theory and equations either side what ever our hapless teacher was combusting made me twitchy with frustration – and with the exception of clipping safety tongs to the Head of Science’s lab coat, I spent most of my science department hours paralysed with boredom. Still, some of those demonstrations at the front of the class must have remained buried in my head, because Australian artist Jennifer Mehigan‘s work, reminded me , amongst other things, of the multicoloured flashes you get if you through pure sodium in a flame (a point: I have both tried this over my gas stove unintentionally when salting water for pasta, and it’ not nearly as pretty and searched for an informative, accompanying Youtube video but they’re all underwhelming). I’m not sure which of her work above and below I like best: the prints overlaid with paint, the less saturated pencil series, or the abstract colour studies (probably the pencils actually. They’d look cool and disaffected on my wall). Either way, they’re certainly more fun and interesting than double science (double win) so this Tuesday morning is shaping up better than the Tuesday morning’s of my youth. E= MC Hammer, and all that.

{Painted photographs are part of Mehigan’s 2010 Armed and Luminous series; pencil/paint on paper work is from Various Kinds of Fire (2011) and pencil on paper from Immortal Diamondalso completed in 2011}


97 thoughts on “Burning Buildings

  1. Strange to see fire photos messed with like this, and disturbing. I grew up in australia, a land prone to massive fires. I still get scared when the temperature gets really high. Thanks for sharing.

    • I think that’s the interesting point about them – they are beautiful, and yet, the scenes they portray, would be horrifying in real life. That juxtaposition, is, as you rightly say, disturbing. Thanks so much for your comment!

  2. vixstar1314 says:

    Happened to drop by your blog. Woah very cool pictures, it is different but effective. Thanks for sharing this work with us =)

  3. Those pictures are SO awesome, how creative! Loved this post.
    p.s. we are learning the same thing you were talking about right now in my college history class (: “paralyzed with boredom” couldn’t be more correct for describing the rest of the class.
    Thanks for this!

    • I remember that feeling like it was yesterday! Man, the TIME I spent finding creative ways to get out of science classes… Loved your blog by the way. Really fab content!

  4. Willem Visser says:

    Really very beautifull work! I like the mixture of photgraphs and painting; it’s both realistic and abstract at the same time.

    • I mean, I’d hate it if they saw it and it triggered the trauma- that would be awful. I simply wanted to flag the work as a stunning idea – I think it’s super clever how Jennifer’s work makes makes something so horrible and scary (a burning home) so visually beautiful to look at. The juxtaposition there is fascinating. Thanks for stopping by and sharing your view though – you made a really important point : )

  5. Pingback: Watch If You’re Smart « Red Nails and Teacups

  6. The most interesting thing about high school chemistry for ME was when the teacher put caesium/sodium into a water bath and just let it go wild. Better than equations and formula by far.
    …Then I went on to do my degree in Chemistry and work in the pharmaceutical industry as a synthetic chemist. Guess what? Explosions are STILL the most fun part. :D Which just goes to show you’ve got the makings of a scientist after all…

    I like the pencil sketches and colour studies the most – the mixture of colour is very beautiful. Thanks for sharing.

    • I remember that experiment too! That was certainly the epoch for me… but I think my talent in chemistry was rather more restricted than yours! My absolute pleasure to share – thanks for reminding me of a favourite chemistry lesson!

  7. I’m not sure I understand the artwork… but I definitely appreciate the chemistry references. The part I liked most about Chemistry was the color spectrum and being able to use colored pencils to color our lab papers! lol. I’d take physics over chemistry any day… although, I AM a baker-so I suppose a little chemistry is good. At least there’s a positive outcome that you can sink your teeth into!

  8. Thank you so much for introducing me to this artist! I’m obsessed with the second piece and the pencil sketches as well. Your post led me to Jennifer’s website and I was pleased to find that her other works are beautiful as well. You have a great eye for art and discovering new talent!

  9. Reblogged this on Dogpatch Writers Collective and commented:
    These images speak to the need for looking at the usual in an unusual way. With writing, it’s finding a word, a phrase that upends the norm. That keeps you looking–or thinking. From The Tiger’s Wife by Tea Obreht, for example: “He had a thin voice, and a doughy face that looked like it had been forcibly stuffed up into his hat…” Keeps us reading. And in the case of this post I’ve re-blogged, keeps us looking. These images haunt and howl.

  10. I can’t say they’re “pretty” or “cute”, but these painted photos are truly thought-provoking. Something you can’t just glance upon.

  11. MC says:

    i like that it’s a little bit dreamy and a little bit nightmarey, and which way you tip is probably going to be determined by your personal experience. thanks for sharing.

  12. tbenf says:

    These pictures are great! A perfect mix of reality and surrealism. Also, personally, that was the only reason I liked Chemistry: making fire.

  13. Fire—refining, beatific, yet destructive. These portray the destruction of a home—life-changing, destruction for a family of close-knit souls. The paradox of these prints is overwhelming. She is a true artist. Thanks for finding and sharing. In being consumed in their art, many artists do not know how to share their work. Thanks to one like you we can see.

  14. Great post, and congratulations on your “fresh-pressed” accomplishment! That isn’t likely to happen for me, as I post video guitar licks/solos and songs with tablature. Doesn’t have the same kind of broad appeal. Once again, congrats!

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