MARJORY'S WORLD & THROUGH LOOKING
I began the Marjory’s World series during my Artist In Residence in the Everglades National Park in 2012 and have continued on to make work in a diverse range of topographies in National Parks across the United States.
The concept of the series draws inspiration from a ritual described in the book The Rings of Saturn by W. G. Sebald. In Holland in the 1600s, during the wake of the deceased, it was customary to cover all mirrors, landscape paintings and portraits in the home with cloths. It was believed this would make it easier for the soul to leave the body and subdue any temptations for it to stay in this world. The ritual seemed, by extension, to be a confirmation of the deeply moving experience that one often feels in the natural environment and provided both a literal and contextual frame within which to shoot the landscape, a portal from the domestic into the wilderness.
Purchasing curtains from Goodwill and Salvation Army stores in the areas where I was photographing, they represented a ‘social fabric’ with a history attached to them and were a cultural connection with the area itself. In our increasingly urban existence which ever distances us from the wilderness experience, the drapes served as connectors to the familiar and functioned as visual portals.
An evolution of this series, I began Through Looking in 2014 using the grid like form of window blinds as a means to activate the landscape. The network of lines served as a tool for arranging the scene and organizing information. The grid imparted a democratic character to the composition, demarking space into numerous equal units, it engaged the entire surface area with the edges becoming as important as the centre. The linear graphic also alluded to the cartographic grid, a system developed to map the earth's surface. A nod to the tradition of painting en plein air, I painted the blinds in situ, recording my response to colors and light in a landscape at a specific point in time. Experiments in perceptual experience and figure-ground organization, the mirrored form in many of the pictures were also a reflection upon the Buddhist tenet of mirror-like awareness and the true nature of mind.
In 2017 the process shifted from linear construction into the sequential deconstruction of the grid itself. Performing a series of gestural hand cuts, I had been thinking about Fontana's Concetto spaziale Tagli paintings which also addressed the perception of space and the process of discovery by looking through. The resulting symmetrical and asymmetrical forms created a different visual engagement with the grid, the portals systematically revealed, addressing the cyclical reality of nature and of life. Primal in form, often caligraphic in nature, the cuts became a metaphor for the human condition and a meditation upon the union of interior and exterior landscapes. Inspired in part by Agnes Martin’s immersive group of paintings The Islands I-XII, 1979, I began to pair down the colour and create white on white compositions with the intention for the images to be viewed as a linear sequence. Filtering the landscape through a second skin-like layer, the repeated motif of the horizon line running through the pictures like a cardiac rhythm.
I have been returning to the same sites throughout the year, watching the change in seasons and the earth breathe. The project is ongoing.
“There’s a developing awareness and each development is an inspiration. It makes a change in our expression. The best thing about it though is that it tells us what to do...not only in artwork, but in life itself... You have to find out what your reaction to life is. When you find out about yourself and your reaction to life then you will know the truth... The revelation of truth is the process of life..”
- Agnes Martin