On the occasion of her exhibition ‘Sea’ at the Foundling Museum, Bloomsbury, London, which runs until 2 September, Jodie Carey has chosen her ‘Masterpiece in a Nutshell’ for the 3rd Dimension series. For this exhibition Carey, engaging with the Foundling Hospital history, herself created three monumental new site-responsive installations.

Jodie Carey: The work I have chosen as a masterpiece is Sun Tunnels by Nancy Holt, four colossal concrete tubes which lie in Utah’s massive Great Basin Desert in America. This is a masterpiece because these simple yet dramatic forms embrace the vast wide open space of the desert beautifully, and by framing the huge landscape – they bring it back to human scale.

Each tube is perforated with holes in the shape of a specific constellation, so during
the day the sunlight streams through and projects the constellations inside the tunnels – bringing the sky down to earth. This ever changing play of light and shadow allows the visitor an intimate connection with nature, as it is not simply sculpture placed in landscape – but land as an active component.

Nancy Holt’s work is also a masterpiece for me because it is incredibly significant as a major example of land art executed by a woman – in a genre where the artists are predominantly male.

Main image: Nancy Holt (1938–2014), Sun Tunnels, 1973–76, concrete, steel, and earth, 2.82 × 20.87 × 16.15m., each tunnel: l. 552m., d. 2.82m. Great Basin Desert, Utah, USA (photo: Creative Commons, CC BY 2.0)