On mass extinction, ecological recovery and the Rose-Garden Game
Article by Mat Osmond
Artwork Lucy Kerr
A Letter from Death Valley, an Elegy from the Future
We are excited to announce the publication of our latest book, available now from our online shop. The fifteenth issue of Dark Mountain is a spring anthology of non-fiction, fiction, poetry and artwork inspired in part by the element of fire. Over the next weeks we'll be sharing some of what you can find in its pages. Today two poems by Mike Cipra and Emily Stoddard lament the loss and beauty of the living world, with image by Lucy Rose Kerr.
ORIGIN COFFEE PACKAGING 2017 Panama Hartmann Geisha - commission - Ghost Drawing - CLOUD CAVE - white ink on black sugar paper - images courtesy of Origin Coffee
Lucy Kerr and Jim Carter - March 20th 2017
Marking the vernal equinox, this exhibition contemplates the realm of the underworld and the dreams, stories and rituals associated with the passing of Winter into Spring. Using installation, drawing and photographic illusion, Lucy’s work explores subterranean spaces between fantasy and reality, past and present, inner and outer. Jim’s work focuses on the animal body and the fox as king of the underworld. Using story and sculpture he expresses relationships between human, animal and seasonal cycles of destruction and renewal.
The Dream and the Underworld
Dreams, before Freud, were always associated with reaching beyond: somewhere out of this world, greater than ourselves. The Underworld was a place, actual as well as symbolic, related to this world, but also distinct from it. It was certainly taken to mean much more than the unconscious.
Most of us would readily see a connection between the dream and the underworld, but because they are broad terms, it is less easy to explore what that connection might be.
That is the territory of this show.
It reveals a landscape that is both familiar and unfamiliar, one that asks us to be prepared to set aside what we think we know in favour of larger truths that may disturb our ideas of order.
In the light of this simultaneous strangeness and naturalness, both inside and beyond, this piece of text was composed in ways inspired by the Surrealists. Their idea was to get beyond ordinary ways of thinking, to ‘send the mind on holiday’ (in André Breton’s words), and allow chance and a more communal way of making art to emerge. One way of doing this was through automatic writing and, famously, the ‘cadavre exquis’ or exquisite corpse.
Not that this show is communal in that sense, or Surrealist. But it reaches to areas of experience that are much more to do with the collective unconscious than the individual. In terms of language, it allows words and grammar themselves greater prominence than one person’s way of using them (‘langue’ rather than ‘parole’ for the linguists).
How we went about trying to reach this through writing about the works in the exhibition is set out at the end of this text. What follows now is the result, a mix of the words of the three of us, put together by Penny, who devised the whole crazy idea in the first place. We hope you enjoy it, and that it complements your responses to the art works.
Please read the following as if it applied equally to both the artists’ work, rather than expressing their individual beliefs. It was produced to a greater or lesser degree out of the force-field set up between the works.
Dynamic energetic, supernatural Primitive magical, ritual Wonderful awe, wonder Connected sun and moon, oscillation, wild, Raw, Land, enchanted, connection cave, sea cave, ancient magic/ancient/divine, art, savage shiver, bloodlines/survival, ancestor.
I feel we all have an internal mythology and I explore methods to connect to interior worlds. That’s where mythology lives. On balance, if the void can have narrative qualities, they must be defined by the human mind or natural processes. I use colour emotionally and all at once when extremely happy. This is a response to the wilderness, as ideas emerge when in it. The titles of work are part illumination, part ambiguity – a map without a destination. Drawings are, too. Ideas constellate depending on the context but generally words and images work together in an oscillation, not to clearly define. So there is a restriction of a sort, but ever changing. Ambiguity isn’t an obstacle to telling a story; everything has a narrative when we look for it. Ambiguity allows it to be personal.
I don’t feel I relate to any part of the contemporary ‘art scene’, or, if I do, it is an uncomfortable relationship. Same goes for religion.
I think of my own work as artefacts or talismans before I think of them as sculptures. The word sculpture doesn’t quite define what I set out to do (though it is, of course, a useful term of reference). There is, I feel, a resurrective, atoning or ceremonial aspect to my work, especially given the fact that I use animal remains and natural materials. Even the act of sculpting is only a small part of the process, to the point that it is possible to make something with very little of that technique, there being a world of experience to draw from.
I don’t know what ‘collaborative’ means. My gut reaction to the word ‘abstraction is one of relief. The ritualistic aspect of art does this, too. Scale doesn’t matter at all. Nor does permanence. What interests me most in the art of the past is the primitive, when art was magic. That’s what I hope the audience might sense in my work.
I think my use of colour is a reaction to its absence in my earlier work and a reliance on a very limited palette. It is also perhaps the only instance where I have been moved to change ever so slightly an aspect of my practice in response to outside opinion and to make the work slightly more commercially viable. For people, naturally, tend to have a positive response to colour. Having said that, the only colour that interests me is what I see in nature, and any attempt to replicate this in a work is doomed. The original colours that go into a piece (that which is brought in from the land - leaves, wood, animal remains) achieve a kind of unity and essence through amalgamation. The fact that this tends towards dark and black gives me a sense of gratification - I lean naturally towards the void, decay, death and reanimation, the esoteric, the earth and the quality of the archaic or disinterred, physically or mentally, that a near absence of colour can achieve. So my relationship with colour in art derives very clearly from the natural world. Its importance doesn’t quite come from the same aesthetic considerations that concern many artists.
Note on the method of composition
Penny compiled a list of words from looking at the work Lucy and Jim planned to show. This formed the basis for questions to each of them.
Then the writer made two lists by selecting from the questions at random - literally out of a hat. The artists did not know who the questions were originally intended for. Neither of them knew what the other had been asked, or had said, until afterwards.
But once they had read each other’s replies, the writer asked each artist to re-invent the questions they thought the other had been asked.
The writer then made a draft, which included new thoughts and previously unconscious responses/comparisons/associations about the works that came up as a result of the process.
Only then did the artists find out whether they got ‘their’ questions.
The artists’ comments on the draft were incorporated into the final version, which you have in your hand.
Professor Penny Florence PhD
The Slade School of Fine Art
Some of my work published in DARK MOUNTAIN ISSUE 11 2017 - QUEST - handmade illusion with household objects, and DAEMON - illusion with household objects and landscape
Some of my work published in DARK MOUNTAIN ISSUE 10 2016 - HOME - ghost drawing - white ink on black sugar paper
NEW YEAR DAY IS BLACK - NICKY LOUTIT 2016 - book design, layout and support as a post graduate placement through - INTERANIMA * Guardian Article Link *
Exploring Illusion with Lucy Rose Kerr: An Interview by Colleen Conroy for Fameless Quarterly New York
EXPLORING ILLUSION WITH LUCY ROSE KERR
Lucy Rose Kerr’s work pulls you in like a dark fairy tale; a storybook set in her native English countryside. Exploring realms of newness, otherness, and “stuffness,” as she calls it, the young artist oscillates between light and dark, fantasy and reality. There is a definite theme of polarity present in Kerr’s work, a certain balance of opposites. The ethereal installations and illusions offer a moody voyage into the artist’s mind, evoking feelings that shift subtly between daydream and nightmare. Kerr’s illustrations waver between the abstract and narrative, creating landscapes and worlds that are full of mystery. Kerr has the rare gift of creating work that leaves it largely up to the viewer to decide what they are seeing—forcing her audience deep into their own minds in order to process what is in front of them. Intrigued, we asked the clever, poignant artist a few more questions about her captivating body of work...
A glance at seven passages.
Seven artists present a reunion of their work after one year of individual progression. The collective each occupies a set measurement which signifies the approximate space of a step. Amy Goodwin Heidi Ball, Irene Vidal, Lewanna Stewart, Lisa Wrench, Lucy Kerr and Suzy Sharpe use their authorial voice to explore themes of arsenic, monsters, narrative resonances, symbol, solitude, illusion and anthropocentrism.
Thanks Davitt Steed for the photos of the private view.
Cultshare Show, Penryn Arts Festival
I made my first book:
Making Illusion: An Exploration of the Stuffness of Things
new illusions where made from objects collected at The Lizard Peninsular, Cornwall.
"We live between the act of awakening and the act of surrender. Each morning we awaken to the light and the invitation to a new day in the world of time; each night we surrender to the dark to be taken to play in the world of dreams where time is no more. At birth we were awakened and emerged to become visible in the world. At death we will surrender again to the dark to become invisible. Awakening and surrender: they frame each day and each life; between them the journey where anything can happen, the beauty and the frailty."
"The human soul is hungry for beauty… When we experience the Beautiful, there is a sense of homecoming. Some of our most wonderful memories are beautiful places where we felt immediately at home. We feel most alive in the presence of the Beautiful for it meets the needs of our soul. For a while the strains of struggle and endurance are relieved and our frailty is illuminated by a different light in which we come to glimpse behind the shudder of appearances and sure form of things. In the experience of beauty we awaken and surrender in the same act. Beauty brings a sense of completion and sureness. Without any of the usual calculation, we can slip into the Beautiful with the same ease as we slip into the seamless embrace of water; something ancient within us already trusts that this embrace will hold us."
12" album cover illustrations 'for lovers and the brokenhearted' organised by Cultshare www.cultshare.co.uk for a February 14th show at Beerwolf books Falmouth, followed by two weeks at Howl Penryn, and two weeks at Plymouth College of Art.
I chose Leonard Coen - 'I walked into this empty church i had no place else to go, when the sweetest voice i ever heard whispered to my soul'
Some published work, selected for issue two: #COR Teal - Cave and Shadows drawing. Lentejas Press are an independent publishing house and riso print studio based in Barcelona. lentejaspress.etsy.com
An exhibition of work related to events that took place on the 17th February, with Irene Vidal, A. Goodwin, Lisa Wrench.
ANGEL TUBE station:
17th Jan - 2nd Feb 2015.
22nd - 25th January 2015 at...
Candid Arts Trust
3 - 5 Torrens Street,
Here is a section at ANGEL TUBE original artwork showing at Candid Arts Trust.
Mirror Seal image at PIMLICO STATION.
Explore and get lost
Stare for hours
See as if for the first time
Seek hyper awareness
Be a dreamer
Observe the soul of everything
Live in vivid luminescence
Play with light
Dare to be fragile
Look for the edge
Be inspired in the dark