Hannah Rowan‘s (1990) work almost seems to slip from her hands, as fragile and changeable as water. It is precisely this element that the British artist, a graduate of the Royal Collage of Art in London, analyzes and investigates. Water’s capacity for adaptation and transformation, adapting to the outside world and its variations, is compared to a human body at the mercy of external events and influences. “Water as body; water as communicator between bodies; water giving life to bodies,” wrote Virginia Wolf.
Hannah Rowan’s artistic research explores the complexities of water that represent a meeting point between the human body and geological and ecological systems. Her sculptural, installation and video-sound works are made from uncertain, fragile and changing materials, reflecting the nature of her research. Very often blown glass is associated with ice, destined to melt, change shape and disappear. Fluidity is represented by molten bronze, whose hardness contrasts with the other elements in the composition, such as ceramic, which is fragile and shiny. This contrast is evident in the work The Well (living waters) on view at C+N Gallery CANEPANERI in Milan, from March 7 to April 24, 2023, in her first Italian solo exhibition entitled Tides in the Body curated by Tatiana Martyanova. The rigid, geometric structure accommodates transparent blown glass ampoules that hold ice tentacles, attempting a sculptural transcription of a tangible but fleeting element such as water.
Hannah Rowan’s interest in and in-depth knowledge of water is supported by the artist’s field research during her recent art residency in Greenland. The melting of glaciers and their transformation, combined with the animal kingdom that inhabits them, such as oysters, mollusks, seaweed, jellyfish and octopuses, influence Hannah in shapes and textures, often shiny and curvilinear.
A major influence the artist receives from philosophy is the hydrofeminist theory of Canadian researcher Astrida Neimanis, which shows how a new understanding of bodies can change our attitude toward the waters of the Earth.