For several years, British duo Heather Ackroyd and Dan Harvey have been experimenting with using grass seedlings and photosynthesis as a medium and process for making unique, green portraits. Since debuting the form more than a decade ago, the artists have used grass in several large-scale installations, ranging from portraits of tennis players at the 2008 Wimbledon Tennis Championships to a recent installation that involved completely covering the interior of London’s Dilston Grove Gallery with living grass. Now, Ackroyd and Harvey are at it again with "Face to Face," a new exhibit of grass portraits in Chamarande, France.
In their latest work, Ackroyd and Harvey have produced large living portraits of the officers that work at the Domaine de Chamarande. The images are similar to some of the duo’s other large grass photographs, which have been on display in both indoor and outdoor exhibits in recent years.
To create the grass portraits, the artists project a photograph onto a dark wall of grass, causing corresponding parts of the grass surface to grow depending on how much light exposure they receive. The more light the grass is exposed to, the darker the pigmentation becomes; and the farther away you stand from the images, the higher the resolution appears.
The images make a commentary about both the beauty and the transitory nature of living things, as they can last from several months to years, but as the grass grows that images fade away. As writer Tracey Warr explained in a 2002 essay, “Ackroyd and Harvey’s work is a potent evocation of presence and presentness. It briefly delays the passing present but eventually both medium and representation mimic their subject and fade away.”
All photos © Ackroyd & Harvey