Himmelbilder / Skies of Dawn (Credit: Heidi Morstang)

Himmelbilder / Skies of Dawn (Credit: Heidi Morstang)

A collage of 483 images – each taken at sunrise in Plymouth for every day of the UK’s COVID-19 restrictions – will sit at the heart of a new exhibition.
Heidi Morstang: Field Observations showcases the work of Dr Heidi Morstang, Associate Professor in Photography at the University of Plymouth and an award-winning photographer and filmmaker.
Featuring photographs and films created over the past two decades, the works are an observation of a fragile natural environment, and the increasing changes in the climate that has now become a global emergency.
The exhibition includes art works made in the Arctic featuring glaciers, boreal forests, rapid light changes between polar night and day, and butterflies in the Sierra Nevada mountains.
There are also works showing geoscientists searching for the ancient scars of earthquakes, scientists who have dedicated their lives to the study of climate change, and the imposing tunnels of the Svalbard Global Seed Vault.
Amid those visions from across the world is Himmelbilder / Skies of Dawn – a five-metre collage of images taken much closer to home, from Dr Morstang’s garden in Plymouth, during 2020 and 2021.
It includes 69 columns of seven pictures, one column for each week that the UK lived under restrictions, and focuses solely on the sky as it appeared on each of those 483 days.
Dr Morstang said:
“In 2020, my calendar was packed with journeys I had planned for the year – and wherever I was in the world, my aim was to take images of the sky above me. When the pandemic started, my plans changed very quickly but continuing with my idea gave me a sense of personal stability. I got up at sunrise each day and recorded a short video on my phone, which has now been translated into this final piece. I hope people who see it will realise that although it was a turbulent time, the skies during those months were very often clear and blue. Despite what was going on, the sun – like the tides – still rose and fell every day.”
Heidi Morstang
Dr Heidi Morstang
Himmelbilder / Skies of Dawn is the latest in a series of projects, which Dr Morstang has been working on since 2001, that bridge the gap between the arts and the sciences.
Her aim with much of her work is to not only give people an insight into things they would not usually see, but also to help them understand things they may have little or no knowledge about. Those are characteristics often prompt her own choice of projects.
Dr Morstang said:
“My method is very simple – I work on things I am curious to find out more about. By observing and spending time with people who have significant specialist knowledge, I use the camera to discover what they are looking for and how they are exploring it. I then create photographs and films that will hopefully foster understanding, a love for the natural environment around us and desire to protect it for future generations. Not knowing about the effects of climate change is one thing - but if we are frightened about it, we are more likely to avoid doing anything about it.”
Heidi Morstang: Field Observations is being hosted by the University’s Arts Institute with support from the Norwegian Embassy in the United Kingdom. It will run in The Levinsky Gallery from Saturday 11 February until Saturday 8 April.
It will also include a number of associated events, including talks and workshops for families, and cinema screenings of two films of Morstang’s films.
These will include the premiere of 47˚C, showcasing the pioneering work of Professors Camille Parmesan and Michael Singer and their 50-year study into the impact of climate change on the ecology and evolution of butterflies in California. The film is supported by President Emmanuel Macron’s Make Our Planet Great Again Award.
In the second documentary film Pseudotachylyte, Dr Morstang portrays a close observation of international geoscientists exploring seismic landscapes in the Lofoten Islands, off the coast of Norway.

Heidi Morstang: Field Observations

This Arts Institute exhibition presents selected films and photographic works, made since 2001, where landscape is the principal line of inquiry exploring various ways humans intervene with and in it.
Dr Heidi Morstang's practice encompasses moving image, photography and experimental documentary; she is interested in developing visual methods when working on interdisciplinary projects that concern environmental change.
Heidi Morstang, Prosperous Mountain, 2014

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Work created by Paige Alexander for illuminate 2017