22 May INSPIRATION: Taking imagination seriously
We all know the old saying about necessity being the mother of invention, but this takes it to a whole new level. After a long road filled with rejection, Janet Echelman’s dreams of becoming a visual artist were realised when she went to India for a Fulbright scholarship. However, as the deadline for her show arrived, her paints didn’t. Scrambling for an alternative, Janet watched fishermen working their nets on the beach and had a total lightbulb moment – these fishnets were a way to make volumetric form without heavy solid materials.
Initially collaborating with the fishermen, Janet wanted to go larger with her work. They made a net of a million and a half hand-tied knots that was installed briefly in Madrid, where it caught urbanist Manuel Sola-Morales’ eye. He asked if she could build the installation as a permanent piece for his city of Portugal – three years and many innovations later, and the 50,000-square-foot lace net was complete. Janet’s permanent, billowing, voluptuous forms are proof that you can often find beauty in the most unusual places.