ART

Aquanauts exhibition depicts the story of eye-catching creatures Homo aquatis

Artist Pompe Hedengren tells how the 11 sculptures took him 3 years to create — shell by shell and oyster by oyster.
By JOHAN MAGNUSSON
January 05, 2022

The beautiful and mysterious creatures were discovered(?) by paleontologist Beata Gardelius and geologist Inga-Lisa Blomgren during a spectacular research project 125 years ago — after which the duo mysteriously disappeared without a trace. Artist Pompe Hedengren, who’s created the sculptures, drawings, and paintings for the 700 sqm big Aquanauts: The Exhibition, describes it as a parallel universe that follows in the footsteps of the two female scientists in the Siljan Ring (Europe’s largest crater created by a 5-kilometer big meteorite around 370 million years ago) in the Dalarna region, where the research expedition took place.

— They’re making astonishing finds as they search for new human species in the dark woods. In the exhibition, we can experience their photographs, films, fossils, scents, drawings, and paintings. The thoughts behind the Aquanauts are based on love and liberation, so I hope the visitors will be touched and liberated. It’s a strong experience for all senses, he tells.

I heard that it took you three years to create the pieces. How has the process been?

— Very special. Every sculpture is made by hand and built shell by shell and oyster by oyster. Each sculpture took 3-4 months and I’ve made eleven of them. Since I have a daytime job, they are all made in the night — it gives me a kind of meditative feeling working so slow, says Hedengren. He adds:

— This project is constantly growing and it will continue to do so for the next 30 years. My goal is to make a movie as the next step in this life project of mine.

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