Dalby Forest 2: The Nissen Hut

Rachel Whiteread's Nissen Hut

Ever since seeing Cathy’s post about Rachel Whiteread’s, I was looking forward to seeing it. Cathy’s post sparked off a lively and forthright debate about what her readers thought of it and whether it is indeed ‘Art’, if you follow the link you can go to the comments and see what we all had to say about it.

I am a fan of Rachel Whiteread and her work, you can see other posts I’ve written about it, here, here , here and here.Nissen Hut by Rachel Whiteread

It’s not easy to sum up why I relate to her work, but I think it is about the way she gives the small, seemingly trivial aspects of human activity, construction and development a monumental quality. She uses real objects that show the marks of time and use and sets them in a monotone, permanent structure that gives us a chance to explore the details in a new way, and think about the hands that created the original structure and all that it connects to.broken windows

To me this is a war memorial that does not speak of the military, hierarchy or grand gestures, this commemorates Peter Nissen, the man who designed a pracitcal solution to a required need, during the First World War. Rachel WhitereadThe sculpture remembers the men who constructed it and lived in it and it connects us to those who constructed other Nissen huts over decades and all the different uses they have been put to. This one also commemorates the men who worked for the forestry and planted the forest it sits within. It commemorates time passing with the flaws and evidence of decay. It is the only permanent public piece in Britain of this, our most successful living female sculptor, it relates to all her other works throughout the world.mesh window

Making art is not only about making something that looks nice. Nissen SculptureIf it causes one to think about things in a different way it has done its job. broken windowsWithout knowing the story of this sculpture it would be difficult to appreciate what on earth it is doing in the forest.wooden planks, Rachel Whiteread

That is the same for most art – if we don’t want to discover more about it, we can just walk on by, but taking time to discover the story is, for me, an enriching, thought provoking and sometimes emotional experience.

corrugated, Rachel Whiteread

Here is a link to a short video about this sculpture

an article about the sculptor’s family connection,  her grandfather was a conscientious objector.

Not everyone will see it in the same way and all views are valid. Some of the locals were very much against it. I’d love to know what you think.

So that is the ‘deep and meaningful’ bit – now for a bit of silliness

In Cathy’s original post she wondered if the Nissen Hut would attract graffitti,  and Tialys’s comment prompted this quickly scrawled temporary bit of graffitti.

graffitti Nissen Hut

We was

graffitti -

and you can see a few more pics on this post of Cathy’s.

As we left it was getting dark and the sculpture took on a quiet ghostly glow through the trees

Rachel Whiteread


20 responses to “Dalby Forest 2: The Nissen Hut

  1. It looks like my snow covered greenhouse in the morning.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I agree art doesn’t need to be beautiful/perfect to be art. :o) But I still have issues with this one. I love the concept, not the structure itself.
    Love hearing your thoughts!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I’m with you, 100%, and I think you’ve explained your position beautifully. It’s easy to appreciate “pretty” art–it loves the eye and the eye loves it. But much (most?) art in the last couple hundred years has had more to it–it’s noisier, more complicated, more demanding of the viewer. So, understanding that and the background gives us access to it. I am still interested in seeing the Nissen hut when the woods starts to take it back . . .

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Murtagh's Meadow

    I think you are right. Often learning about the artist or the piece of work enhances our experience. Throught provoking post!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Sandra, you are a great educator for the art world. Most art, I just don’t get, and while I am still not a fan of this piece, understanding it better, along with a little education about art, makes a big difference. 🙂 Thank you for teaching me. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Gosh, Kathy, thank you. I have been helped to view so many things in a new light by reading blogs and other reviews and opinions, if I can pass a bit of that on I’m delighted.
      I can completely understand why some people would not like this piece, and I’m not very happy about it’s environmental credentials, but for me, it has earnt it’s place.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Yes, I am with you all the way. Have you ever seen the movie “Museum Hours”? If not, you might want to see if you can get it. Here’s the IMDB link: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt2268732/ A beautiful exploration of art. The pacing is leisurely, but I found the film both moving and profound.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Your pictures make it look like art to me.

    Liked by 1 person

    • That’s so interesting, it makes me think of all sorts of things I have come to appreciate through the eyes of an enthusiast – Cricket comes into this category. Before my sons started playing, I found it exceedingly boring and could not understand the appeal, but hearing them talk about field placement, tactics and teamwork, meant I enjoyed each match so much more.


      • I guess we inadvertently highlight the positives and obscure the negatives with anything that we love and so we always present it in a biased way… but that’s good, because it encourages others to adopt a perspective they might not otherwise have considered.
        I have enjoyed reading about the Nissan Hut sculpture in quick succession from two different viewpoints. I’ll be interested to see how Cathy’s opinion develops over time too.

        Liked by 1 person

  8. It’s one of those pieces that trigger strong reactions and I guess that is what artists set out to do in one form or another.
    Van Gogh, amongst others, was not appreciated in his own lifetime so I suppose it remains to be seen whether this installation survives the test of time or not.
    I’m glad I encouraged you and Cathy in a bit of mildly rebellious behaviour – it certainly made for a good photo 🤣

    Liked by 2 people

    • HaHa! Yes, you with definitely with us in spirit!
      All her work triggers such reactions – I wonder what that feels like for her – years and years of it.
      As you say, it is the same for many.


  9. I am interested to read people’s further thoughts on the hut. I shall keep visiting it to see how it settles down in the forest.

    Liked by 1 person

I love your comments, keep'em coming :-)

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