Wind Turbines as Artistic Canvas

This post comes from the Artists and Climate Change Blog

This month, our Renewable Energy Artworks series continues with a focus on a German wind turbine manufacturer that supports local artists to use its turbines as an artistic canvas. 

When I first sat down to write this post, I intended to describe the background story of how three musicians ended up on top of a wind turbine in eastern Québec, through a collaboration between the international world music festival, Festival musique du bout du monde, and the wind energy think-tank TechnoCentre éolien.

Watch this sublime sunrise concert 80 meters above the ground – the first in the world – in the autumn-tinged mountains of Québec’s magnificent Gaspé peninsula that juts out into the Gulf of Saint Lawrence:

The three musicians from the coastal city of Gaspé are, left to right, Yvette Thériault (accordion), Balby Gadho (djembé) and Justin Garneau (oud). Secured to the top of a Senvion nacelle via (hidden) security harnesses, the trio performs an original composition by Mr. Garneau entitled Le 15ième lever du soleil (The 15th sunrise), inspired by Indian and North African music.

As I researched this post however, I discovered that these artists were not the first to use a wind turbine as an artistic canvas. Artists in Portugal and Australia have also collaborated with their local wind industry to create original works of art that, ultimately, will shift the public’s perception of the beauty and promise of wind energy in a rapidly changing world.

The common link between these three groups of international artists – in Québec, in Portugal and in Australia – is the German turbine manufacturer, Senvion.

Senvion has distinguished itself from other turbine manufacturers through its avant-garde and proactive community engagement strategy that has resulted in, among other things, bold and vibrant artworks that serve as icons of a new era.

Senvion, Portugal, Ancora, wind, Joana, Vasconcelos, Joana Vasconcelos, artist, WindArt, Beira

Joana Vasconcelos’ mural on a Senvion wind turbine in Portugal

For example, in 2016 Senvion commissioned two of Portugal’s most internationally renowned artists, Joana Vasconcelos and Vhils, to paint two 100-meter Senvion wind turbines for the 171.2 MW Âncora Wind farm in northern Portugal.

In my humble opinion, these are the most beautiful wind turbines in the world.

The video below describes Senvion’s WindArt project in Portugal:

In Australia, two 69-meter Senvion wind turbines were painted between 2013 and 2014 at Australia’s first community-owned wind farm – Hepburn Wind – by Melbourne artists Ghostpatrol (David Booth) and Bonsai. Watch the video below documenting the completion of the second turbine, which coincided with a “Sleep under the stars” family camping event at the wind farm:

I look forward to the day when more and more artists will be commissioned by the renewable energy sector – solar, wind, geothermal, hydro, biomass, biogas – to add their voices and vision of what our post-carbon world will look like.

Disclaimer: Over the past five years, I have worked as a contract photographer for Senvion on several of its Canadian wind projects, including four community wind projects: Viger-Denonville and Mesgi’g Ugju’s’n in Québec, and Gunn’s Hill and Oxley in Ontario. Even though these projects do not include any turbines painted by local artists, they are all majestically beautiful to me. They give me hope for the future. For my daughter’s future.

Joan, Sullivan, Joan Sullivan, renewable, energy, photographer, Canada, Quebec, winter, landscape, snow, wind

Winter landscape at the Mesgi’g Ugju’s’n wind farm in Escuminac, Québec, with Senvion 3XM turbines. ©2016 Joan Sullivan. All rights reserved.

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Joan Sullivan is a renewable energy photographer based in Québec, Canada. Since 2009, Joan has focused her cameras (and more recently her drones) exclusively on solutions to climate change. She is convinced that the inevitable transition to a 100% clean energy economy will happen faster – and within our lifetimes – by creating positive images and stories that help us visualize and embrace what a post-carbon future will look like.  Joan collaborates frequently with filmmakers on documentary films that explore the human side of the energy transition. She is currently working on a photo book about the energy transition. Her renewable energy photos have been exhibited in group shows in Canada and the UK. You can find Joan on Twitter and Instagram


About Artists and Climate Change:

Artists and Climate Change is a blog that tracks artistic responses from all disciplines to the problem of climate change. It is both a study about what is being done, and a resource for anyone interested in the subject. Art has the power to reframe the conversation about our environmental crisis so it is inclusive, constructive, and conducive to action. Art can, and should, shape our values and behavior so we are better equipped to face the formidable challenge in front of us.

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