Mortal beauty – 2018

Recent studies of Leonardo da Vinci’s notebooks have revealed the earliest known scientific studies of friction, including diagrams of apparatus with which he tested his theories. Notes include a drawing of weights being pulled across a surface by a pully, while above is written a line from Italian poet Petrach, cosa bella mortal passa e non dura, in a da Vinci’s mirrored handwriting.

The translation, mortal beauty passes and does not endure, provides the title of this project, while da Vinci’s curious conflation of scientific studies with an artistic consideration of time and aesthetic decay feeds into the visual components of the work. Photographed details of The India Club’s surfaces have been repeatedly scarred with the horizontal forces of a dragged brick, hinting at the man-made pressures of capital and development which continue to erode histories, spaces and architectures of London, including the very venue which houses the work. Outside, a banner plays with da Vinci’s reverse writing, encouraging the public in from the Strand to experience and understand an historic place directly at risk from the pressures of profit and gentrification.