Art in Romney Marsh
September-October 2015, solo presentation curated by Dan Howard Birt, at All Saints, Lydd.
Thirteen Blackbirds Look at a Man
Fiona MacDonald, Cathie Pilkington, Annie Whiles & Sean Ashton
10 July – 6 September 2015
Artists’ talk Tuesday 4 August
Taking its title from the poem ‘Thirteen Blackbirds Look at a Man’ by RS Thomas, this exhibition features four artists concerned with how modern urban existence has separated us from the natural world: socially, spiritually and culturally. What was once seen as magical is now understood in rational ways. The artists look at the gaps in our collective knowledge and personal experience and present imagined symbolic encounters with a dark humour, willing us to believe in what they tell us.
Woodland Portrait Project #1
Peacock Visual Arts, Aberdeen
Exhibition Dates: 11 April – 23 May 2015
Exhibition Opening: Friday 10th April 6-8pm
In conversation event: Friday 22nd May 6pm (with Dr Jo Vergunst, University of Aberdeen)
Woodland Portrait Project #1 is concerned with place, connectedness, imagination, and human-nonhuman relationship. This exhibition will be the first public showing of new work made as the result of a long-term continuing research project, based on the artist’s persistent engagement “with one smallish, ordinary-extraordinary wood near the M25 in Kent”. Active in this woodland since 2012, MacDonald plans to spend several years exploring with/in, and learning this particular place, through the instrumental, imaginative and ludic engagement of making art.
For the exhibition Woodland Portrait Project #1 at Peacock Visual Arts, MacDonald will create an immersive multidisciplinary installation; mirroring the discovery and detail in woodland, how disparate large and small things nest and entangle to produce a unique ‘ecology’. Large sculptural drawings (made via monumental tree rubbings) will act as macro structures, hanging in and dividing the space, with some also acting as projection screens. Painting, sculpture, print, video, audio, and photographic works will insert/reveal around these drawing-installations in assemblages and groupings of disparate scale and materiality. All the work has been made in and with the woodland, using its materials and inhabitants as muse, collaborator and correspondent.
The intimacy of MacDonald’s approach is foregrounded by the indexical, haptic use of materials; the sense of touch is used to talk about how humans respond to, are enriched by, and are embedded in, the wild places they spend time with. These sensitivities are slapped back by the intermittent use of primary colours, and peculiar imaginative leaps which bring something darker, more primal and energetic to the fore. Video work Animat 2013 is a short loop of what is clearly a painting made in the woods, but appearing to breathe, to become animate / animal.
MacDonald’s aim for her research is to interpret and promote a ‘flattened’ ontology – a world view that is less anthropocentric, and which highlights “the material agency or effectivity of nonhuman or not-quite-human things” (Jane Bennett 2010 p.11) by which reorienting perceptions of landscape away from vista towards the complexity and interrelatedness of human-nonhuman activity.
Exhibition Open: Tuesday – Saturday 9.30am – 5.30pm. Admission free.
Peacock Visual Arts, 21 Castle Street, Aberdeen, Aberdeenshire AB11 5BQ
Peacock Visual Arts is the main contemporary visual arts organisation in Aberdeen and the North-east of Scotland and is supported by Aberdeen City Council and Creative Scotland.
Peacock Visual Arts Ltd is registered in Scotland, No. SC 56235 Charity No. 14840