Portraits created out of paint, stone, ink, pencil and even coffee stains are some of the art mediums we’ve been made privy to over the years. The ability of artists to create beauty using the deftness of their hands in harmony with their minds and emotions provide us mere mortals with a sense of awe and inspiration. And, while all deserve the highest praise, this next project could very well receive the highest marks for sheer ingenuity. English artists Dan Harvey and Heather Ackroyd have created stunningly accurate portraits from living grass using nature’s own photosynthesis phenomenon.
The duo use photosynthesis to project photographic images on blades of growing grass by exposing them to a 400-watt projector bulb. The light passes through a negative for certain periods of time to create dark tones and light shadows. For instance, the varying density of the negative’s light and dark areas produce a range of midtones when light levels in certain areas are controlled. More light produces darker tones while less light generates lighter or yellow tones. In a few weeks, the portraits in all their glory began to emerge. There is a downside, however; since the medium used is living grass, they tend to fade away like old photographs.
The two artists began collaborating back in 1990 after noticing pale outlines created by a ladder that was left on a lawn. Seven years later, they started working with the Institute of Grassland and Environmental Research who had developed a type of grass that could retain its green hue even under stress. Of course, if the grass is exposed to oxidative bleaching and other processes, it does lose its color, but that was a small price to pay for creating literally living pieces of artworks.
Harvey and Ackroyd have also worked on installing metal rings around the crown of semi-mature trees, detailing the history of each site of the 2012 London Olympics which can be viewed once the event gets underway.