Born in Epsom (GB) in 1967, studied at the Glasgow School of Art, lives and works in Copenhagen.

Simon Starling occupies himself in his conceptual works with ecological and economic systems, whose defects he makes visible and comments on critically with often whimsical, self-made objects and actions. Water cycles and energies in particular are one of the artist’s recurring objects of examination.

Fountain, 2016

Turtle: 145 x 90 x 130 cm, bonded PMMA particle material
Display case: 330 x 170 x 130 cm, aluminum, safety glass

For his art-in-architecture project for the new building of the Naturmuseum St.Gallen, Simon Starling makes reference to the figures of the Broderbrunnen (fountain) in St.Gallen, which was erected at the end of the nineteenth century for the inauguration of the municipal drinking water system. The allegorical figures and animal forms were produced using the, at that time, new electroplating technology. Due to severe erosion, the fountain had to be replaced, and, in 2000, was recast by the Kunstgiesserei St.Gallen in classic bronze.


On the occasion of his exhibition «Zum Brunnen» at the Kunstmuseum St.Gallen, Simon Starling came across the original fountain figures by August Bösch, which had up to then been in storage in the Völkerkundemuseum St.Gallen. The three animal sculptures—a girl riding, respectively, a swan, a fish, and a turtle—could be seen in dialogue with his works in Starling’s exhibition at the Kunstmuseum in 2016.

For the art-at-the-nature-museum project, the sculptures are now supposed to be made accessible to the public long-term. Each figure stands in a display case opposite its mirror image in another materiality, whereby the twin will absorb moisture that forms in the glass cases. So far, the turtle-rider has been realized and has been installed with its mirror image in PMMS in front of the new museum building since January 2017.

For the realization, the original galvanized sculptures were brought to the Kunstgiesserei St.Gallen and scanned. Following the digital data processing, 3D test prints were created in order to test the aspired-to permeability to air.

The turtle sculpture was then printed in several parts in PMMA using the 3D printer. Prior to assembly, the entire internal space was filled with silica gel, a granulate capable of absorbing an enormous volume of moisture thanks to its large inner surface. In addition, a specially produced heating and ventilation system was built into the display cases of aluminum and safety glass. The moisture secreted by the bronze sculpture is therefore absorbed by its twin.

In January 2017, the entire sculpture was installed on a concrete base that had been cast in advance on site in front of the Naturmuseum St.Gallen.