Block of Ice to be Exhibited in Tatton Park Biennial

Neville Gabie. A Weight of Ice


I remember there was a lot of impressive stuff in the first Tatton Park Biennial in 2008. Looks like the 2010 one could be just as good.

Neville Gabie:  A weight of Ice brought from the North for You

One artist has gone more than the extra mile for his work for Tatton Park Biennial 2010 (FRAMING IDENTITY: 8 May to 26 September 2010).  In February this year Neville Gabie travelled thousands of miles to Greenland to ‘harvest’ an iceberg.

This two ton block of ice will be housed in a glass structure in Tatton’s gardens and kept frozen using solar power and pond water throughout the five month run of the contemporary art event in rural Cheshire East.

For the past two months this significant piece of glacier has been travelling via boat from Narsaq in Greenland to Aalborg (Denmark) then by ship and truck to Tatton Park.  On Wednesday 14th April the ice arrives at Tatton and will be carefully lifted into its final ‘home’, a complex and unique glass structure, developed with the help of Southampton University’s Renewable Energy Research Department.


This relocation of materials has been central to Neville Gabie’s artistic practice for a number of years.  Two years ago he brought a granite kerbstone from China to Bristol via truck, train and ferry.  In recent months he has been based at Halley research station in Antarctica with the British Antarctic Survey as part of the artists and writers programme, and created work based around the ideas of excavating and re-locating ice.

Gabie hopes his work for Tatton will “provoke a whole range of responses and best of all, generate debate. For me the work is full of contradictions. It uses the sun to keep the ice cold but it also raises questions about the ethics of moving things around the world when there is increasing concern about our global footprint. I hope it will make people curious enough to want to find out more about Greenland and to ask questions about their own immediate environment.”

This is one of the most complex and ambitious pieces of work Gabie has delivered (and it’s not over yet!).  In one respect it is the process that is the work: harvesting, transporting and delivering the ice and then keeping it ‘complete’ in its pristine glass case for all its visitors. This process has been documented by Gabie via his blog on the Tatton Park Biennial website. Gabie commented, “For me making a piece of work is about exploration. It is about starting with an idea and following it. The process, the people you meet through the work, the understanding you gain of different contexts is the reward”.

Of course, the introduction of something foreign or ‘alien’ to an English stately garden has a long history.  Many historic gardens have been populated with species brought back from foreign climes by Victorian plant-hunters and have been cared for in the climatically controlled environment of glass houses, much as Gabie’s ice will be.  The contrasting vision of the lush, green landscape of Tatton’s gardens and the idea of the sheer, solid block of ice sited amongst it has provided inspiration for Gabie’s piece.  He hopes it “will look beautiful, stark and absurd in contrast to the verdant landscape of Tatton”.

Curators Danielle Arnaud and Jo Kaplan, Parabola said “Neville’s work for the Biennial is a unique artistic vision that transcends boundaries of art, science and current social and political debate.  It is fully in keeping with the Biennial’s ambitions to work as a ‘creative laboratory’ and we hope Biennial audiences will take this work to their heart!”

Neville Gabie
Neville Gabie was born in Johannesburg, South Africa in 1959 and studied sculpture at the Royal College of Art in London. He has exhibited with Tate Liverpool, Tate Modern and the British Antartic Survey.
Find out more at
Watch Gabie’s blogs from Greenland here