The Art of Nature – Ólafur Elíasson

The Art of Nature – Ólafur Elíasson

Art has the power to allow people to reflect and contemplate. Through centuries it has enabled people to learn and understand different topics. But at a time where it is crucial for us to create change in our lives in order to protect our planet, how can art be used as a tool to create awareness? Many people know what is happening to our planet, but as the effects of climate change may not impact them directly currently, or they may not be able to see it in person, it becomes difficult to empathise, and in turn creates a separation. Also, as many people live in cities, they may not feel a connection with nature. But artist Ólafur Elíasson aims to connect people with nature, through immersive experiences and replications of natural phenomena. Allowing each person to connect with nature in different ways, and reflect on their relationship with it. 

Olafur Eliasson is an artist who grew up in Iceland and Denmark, before moving to Berlin in 1995, where he founded Studio Olafur Eliasson. His works look at perception, and interaction with our surroundings, in particular nature. Through different mediums, such as installation, sculpture, film and photography, he aims to bring environmental concerns to the forefront. Enabling people to experience nature and strive to make a difference. During “In Real Life,” (on view until January 5, 2020) at the Tate Modern in London, Eliasson invited people to reflect on their carbon footprint through 40 works. These included “Ice Watch” and “Your Blind Passenger”, where visitors walked through a tunnel filled with dense yellow fog, portraying the dystonia future of urban environments due to air pollution.


The Weather Project

Eliasson is always inspired and fascinated by the weather. He sees it as one of the fundamental encounters with nature that can still be experienced in the city, with every city having its own weather. Made from a semicircle of light, reflected on a mirror, the Weather Project is a large-scale immersive experience that brings London’s weather inside. An installation which encourages the act of perceiving the world around us, but acknowledging that, like the weather, our perceptions are constantly changing. Looking at the contrast of the constant inside the building, compared to the unpredictable and changing weather outside. That still remains beyond human control.


Beyond Human Time

Ancient glacial ice, collected off the coast of Greenland, were used to create paintings. These pieces came after the large-scale installation Ice Watch from 2014, where ice was collected and allowed to melt in public spaces around Europe. The aim of these installations was to show people first hand the effects of climate change. For these paintings however, ice was placed on paper with colour, creating washes of colour as it melted. Allowing a natural process to create the art. Yet again, Eliasson showcases natural processes and unpredictable natural phenomena. Co-creating pieces of work to highlight the beauty of nature and exploring time, as these pieces of art in theory took millennia to create, but Eliasson’s interaction, just days.



A spray of fine mist of thousands of tiny water droplets creates a curtain rainbow, made from a bright spotlight. The water is sprayed from a row nozzles coming from the ceiling. This piece is all about perspectives. The idea that people can view an artwork differently from different angles and positions. Further away the rainbow disappears, and from certain angles it intensity brightens. The piece engages with the user, glorifying and dissecting environmental wonder. Like most of his other pieces he explores a scientific process, making it almost seem like magic  when put in a different context. Exploring man made phenomenon and perceptual awareness. 

Ólafur Elíasson