Rookley Manor Studio, Niton Road, Isle of Wight PO38 3NR
9 - 10 November 2019
Forests in myth and story are both frightening and exciting. It is all too easy to get lost in the woods. They are places of testing and transformation.
Of being lost. And found.
The project site is the ancient tracts of Wytham Woods, dating from the last Ice Age. Wytham is a University of Oxford research centre for woodland eco-systems.
The project touches on the ways we exist alongside, but also as part of, our landscape. We are part of the ecology we inhabit.
And the paintings are notations of that experience - neurological and sensory, poetic and metaphoric - of being deep in the woods. The painting practice responds directly to a living ecology, as the external landscape intersects with the internal landscape .
The work embodies an attentiveness to momentary visual, auditory and tactile cues from the forest environment. Some are obvious - large trees, sudden birdsong, lichen patterns, and screens of leaves. But many are subtle, hard to interpret or easily missed. Fluctuations of light and shade alternately reveal and obscure the visual field. Solid shapes appear to dissolve and reconfigure.
The immediacy of noting these sensory perceptions - the unfolding of the unforeseen - influences the mark-making and its movements between referential and abstract. The process of the research becomes both the form and the subject matter of the work: the foliage of the mind.
Image: project sketchbook (detail).