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Art, light and shadow in Northumberland and Tokyo

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Peter Sharpe, curator for Kielder Water in Northumberland, started his talk by describing the quality of the light over the reservoir and the vastness of the sky. According to Sharpe, the materials used in the pieces of art around Kielder Water have been a measure of its relationship with the area. He traced commissions gradually moving away from naturalistic, reactive work, to pieces with 'bite' which use materials incongruous to the setting. The two most recent commissions - by Softroom and James Turrell - are the highest profile yet. The Kielder Belvedere by the former has a silver exterior which marks it out as an 'intruder', while its panorama window controls the view.

Turrell's Skyscape manipulates perception in a different way. It 'decontextualizes' the maritime Northumbrian sky, transforming it into a beautiful blue disk. Sharpe was excited about the revelation of this small chamber set into the side of a hill, with just a hole in the top, through which the sky is visible.

If the work at Kielder Water is about making things that respond to the environment, Kisa Kawakami's work is about allowing the external environment to change his sculptures. Kawakami, who works as an architect and sculptor in Tokyo and London, said: 'Shadows are more important than the material itself.' He peoples his sculptures with light and air, creating a place for them to 'inhabit' with his Pavilion for Light and Air.Intricate origami-style cutting and folding create perfect delicate shapes, although he admits it can take him 20 models to get it right.

The models often echo patterns from Kawakami's moments of 'oneness' with nature. These come infrequently, 'perhaps five times in the past 25 years'. The shapes capture space in a 'single statement', as with the ceremonial progression of arcades of columns at the Vatican. The most intriguing link is in Kawakami's paper piece, Tran - sition, which he imagined as a cornfield with the tracks of a tractor working out from the centre.

As Kawakami sets up the rhythms in his work he says he imagines them 10 storeys high. Many of his models are maquettes for larger pieces, such as the 20m high Torch Tower Flame Dance spiral for the 2002 football World Cup in Japan. Unlike fellow Japanese architect Shigeru Ban, Kawakami does not build in paper, so enlargement is often accompanied by a jarring translation of materials. The simplicity of his models is rarely retained. Torch Tower Flame Dance had to be clumsily jointed.

Kawakami plays with materials, making up rules: until recently he would use only one sheet of paper for each model. One full-scale piece that demonstrates this is a stage for a small island near Hiroshima. It is 7m high, a loop rising out of the sea at high tide, and is made up of overlapping strips of steel - each of them 22m long.

This attempt to launch the model into the external environment has chaotic, unexpected aesthetic results: what begins by playing with light and shadow is affected by more aggressive natural elements.

Kisa Kawakami and Peter Sharpe were speaking at The Gallery, near Smithfield Market, London vital statistics Men and women in the North East have the lowest life expectancy in Britain, 73 and 78.5 years on average, government figures showed last week. The longest life expectancy is 81 for women in the South West and 76 for men in East Anglia.

Last year the North West produced the most rubbish at 501kg per person and London produced the least at 458kg. The South West has the best recycling record - 71kg per person.

During 2000, 82 per cent of new homes were built on brownfield sites in London.

This is in stark contrast with the South West and the East Midlands, where the figures are only 35 per cent and 36 per cent respectively, according to government figures.

In a poll of Southwark residents 65 per cent thought the proposed Renzo Piano 390m tower, Europe's tallest, would be a positive addition to the skyline.

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