Artist David Ward isn't much of a figure skater. He tried once as a boy, but things didn't go so well. "The ice had all these little bumps in it," he told us, "Nobody warned me of that."
Although no one who has ever sported a bruised coccyx (or ego) from a frozen pond would blame Ward had his fascination with skating stopped there, we're happy to say that his new installation, Rink, is far from bumpy and graceless. Inspired by a postcard he received in 1972 featuring Henry Raeburn's well-loved painting The Reverend Robert Walker on Skating on Duddingston Loch, Ward has transformed the floor of P3 into a massive, stunningly animated light drawing - many of which trace the paths of figure skaters.
The 22-minute loop of images, produced by Sam Collins, is seamed together from three different projectors on the ceiling. Ward, who has worked extensively with choreographers and architects in the past, created Rink to explore the concepts of light, motion, time and space through the traces left by an invisible skater rather than through an actual performer. The result is an enchanting journey into the curious realm of present versus remnant, of seen versus unseen.
Still, Ward insists his work is a space for viewers rather than for a performance. Both whimsical and evocative, Rink questions the boundaries between viewer and installation by not only inviting us into the space, but requiring us to fill its human void.
So do yourself a favour and step in. Jump over the sweeping horizontal lines of light or play chicken with the illuminated arch speeding directly towards you (we did; it won). Let the dancing images lift your spirits and spark your imagination - or at least make you feel like you're in Star Wars. As Ward says, the beauty of Rink is that it "tests you out a bit"
Best of all, there's no entrance fee. Bring your own triple axle.
By Tara Sloane
Rink is at P3 gallery, Marylebone Road until 22 November 2009. Opening hours are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Wednesday to Sunday. Admission is free.