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A woman looks at a long landscape canvas featuring various monochrome images hanging on a cathedral wall.

Alumna unveils nine-metre COVID artwork at Wells Cathedral


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An Arts University Bournemouth alumna has unveiled a huge nine-metre illustration at Wells Cathedral in Somerset

Fine Art alumna Zara Saganic has exhibited a huge illustration based on the COVID-19 virus at Wells Cathedral; selected from more than 3,700 entries.

The intricately pen-drawn nine-metre illustration, titled 41,725 (Driven by Data Part I), stretches across the entire Lady Chapel at Wells Cathedral and took more than 13 months to create.

The AUB Foundation and BA (Hons) Fine Art graduate, who currently teaches Art at a school in Dorset, began the project while teaching from home. The drawing was initially intended to be to a much smaller scale, but as lockdowns continued, so too did Zara’s project, eventually occupying an entire roll of drawing paper.

Zara said: “The drawing is my journey through the virus, from the first lockdown in March 2020 to April 2021. It started at the beginning of the first lockdown as a result of a chance supermarket meeting with somebody who was very distressed due to the situation.

“It made me think about my own mental health and how I was going to get through this time. At home, I had a nine-metre roll of paper, and I decided that I would draw my way through the virus, thinking that it would finish well before the end of my paper. As it turned out, I used the whole roll!

“The artwork is called 41,725 (Driven by Data Part I), because the work itself has accounted for my time; it’s about the passage of time and how the time has both moved quickly and slowly. It was a really emotional experience to end the piece because I think that when events and social occasions were put on hold, the drawing kind of filled a gap where these things once were.”

Accompanying this work is a journal that records the dates and times of this activity. This will form part II of the same piece, to be produced over the next stage of the pandemic. The artwork has been displayed throughout September at Wells Art Contemporary, which was named one of the UK’s top five Art Exhibitions by FAD Magazine.

International sculpture and installation artist Simon Periton, who selected the exhibiting artworks for Wells Art Contemporary, said: “I tried to select works that would work well within the various spaces at the Cathedral that we are allowed to use for the installations. This wasn't always easy, but Zara's piece seemed a perfect fit for the wall that faces the Lady Chapel.

“Zara’s work is a visual tour-de-force but also spoke to me about time and how we've all had our notions of time altered during the past 18 months.

“It's a visual manifestation of a journey in time. It also has visual echoes of the Mandelbrot sets that I remember from Chaos theory, where complex geometric structures are created from some simple initial rules which for me, also referenced the construction of the cathedral architecturally.”

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