The Way Up Is Down by Leon Varga
In 2021 during the UK’s third national lockdown, Hungarian artist Leon Varga was the recipient of a small bursary, awarded to him by Leeds Church Institute.
The Way Up Is Down is the product of that bursary – a kinetic sculptural installation which explores some of the ways in which our lived experience of the Covid pandemic has changed the spatial architecture of our social interactions.
It is a work that invites us to reflect upon themes of absence and loss, and the ways in which family can both connect us to the past and elevate us into our future.
Meanwhile, in lockdown – with our routines on hold, events all cancelled and no gatherings to mark the passage of the days and months – our perceptions of time were challenged; so that for many of us pre-Covid, 2019 seems simultaneously like yesterday and an age ago.
This idea of temporal disconnect is also present in the piece – its clocks obscure participants view of each other; time literally looms oppressively over us, but then in turn we rise above it.
The Way Up Is Down asks us to sit with these contradictions, and to think about where we find balance.
The work is constructed using both fabricated and reclaimed materials.
The wooden seats were recovered from a disused church in Dewsbury, and the six long case timepieces – grandfather, grandmother, and grand-daughter clocks – all come from the homes of people who died during the pandemic.
Meanwhile the rigid steel of the seesaw beams, enforce a strict fixed distance between their users.
The artwork is made to be used, and by engaging with it we are invited to think about the social hierarchies of space, to reflect upon the ways that the past two years have reshaped our understanding of time and to remember those who are no longer here with us.
Leeds Church Institute (LCI) Bursary
Through the LCI Arts & Theology bursary scheme, LCI seeks to support excellence and experimentation in the fields of theology and art as part of their wider work and mission. LCI collaborate with both education partners and community organisations bridging gaps and encouraging conversations, discussion and exploration on theology and creativity in the city.
Biography – Leon Varga
Leon Varga is a multi-disciplinary artist, born in Hungary in 1976. Leon is a graduate of Academy of Fine Arts in Budapest. He also studied in Rome and Edinburgh and has work in the collections of several European museums and galleries. Leon has lived and worked in the UK for almost two decades now, predominantly in Leeds.