Ra!

Participating in the Turing Sunflower project set up by MOSI during 2012, I sowed sunflower seeds and documented their growth before studying the spiral to establish whether any had the Fibonacci sequence. Taking a series of seven close-up images of the head of the largest bloom of all, I printed each image at A2 size onto fine art paper then suspended each borderless print from the rafters, each one slightly offset from the last, to create a giant 3D representation of the head of the sunflower. Standing in one particular spot in the gallery, it was possible to gain the full effect as each of the images lined up to make the whole - standing anywhere else gave a completely different perspective with the prints casting shadows on each other, the walls and the floor, just as the sun itself does.

I saw this as a very spiritual installation so I was pleased at the positive responses it received from everyone who visited and to see how they interacted with it. By the time this was exhibited in October, I was already working on a follow up installation concerning the winter solstice, which was exhibited in December that year.

Ra! Sunflower installation by Denise Swanson

The subject of worship since ancient times, the sun has an extraordinary role in every early human culture and features in every belief system around the world. The basis of most mythology and religion, the sun takes on the persona of a human with parental status, known as Father or Mother in different cultures, according to geographic location. Those who observed seasons and planetary movements used that knowledge to predict events, elevating their own power and status.

The ancient Egyptian Sun God Ra represented the midday sun, holding huge significance as the supreme creator of life