Jane Downes, Habitat, 2022
Rusted steel, colour acrylic, solar powered LED light fittings. 2400 x 1200 x 1200mm.
Habitat is inspired in equal parts by coastal settlements, towering city apartment complexes and insect and mollusc colonies. The work, which viewers are encouraged to enter, explores the contrasts and continuities between such built and natural environments, highlighting interplays between exposure and protection and individuality and community.
It presents cohabitation as inevitably double-edged. Each unit is dependent on the whole, which offers security yet requires conformity, and inside the structure, the viewer might equally feel sheltered from the elements or claustrophobic.
Jane Downes has balanced these competing feelings but ultimately tips the scales towards the benefits of dwelling together. With acrylic windows inset on all sides of the structure, which filter light and suffuse the interior space with prismatic, shifting colours, she creates an immersive kaleidoscope that hints toward unthought (and potentially miraculous) ways of collective living.