Placements, archive material from 1992

Skarrein (Seed) 1990

SKARREIN  (Seed) , 1990,

200 x 200cm approx.  

Mixed Media,  including: blood, earth, hair , grass pigment, leaf pigment, flower petal pigment, mud residues, assorted organic media. (private collection) 

The current crop of my work under the title “Placements”, can be traced back through a line of enquiry that began in the early 1990’s, with a series of 12 images and 6 small sculptures that were loosely exhibited under the title, “The Poetry That Remains” as part of the Pushing Against the Wire arts festival, curated by myself, Justin Mitchell, and Lester Faulkner.

These pieces were then re-exhibited in  a small group show a year later under the same title, with a dear friend, Malcolm Pollard, and Mark Brown, who also managed the newly refurbished Roadmender Arts Centre at the time. Both of these shows gained mixed , but mostly favourable (and some incredulous) reviews, and a small amount of coverage in the Guardian arts review.

These works, recently retrieved from my personal archive, manifested from my desire to create images that harnessed some kind of “power”, or “potency”, a life-force, innate within natural materials. Back then, I was fascinated by the transformative energy engendered by ritual, and ritual objects, and how this might potentially be translated into a workable art form. I began researching the ritual practices of various pagan cultures, shamanism, and animism, and a visit to the Pitt Rivers Museum of anthropology in Oxford stimulated, and influenced me enough to create images and fetish objects that I felt would demonstrate or contain this putative “power”.

Nearly all of this corpus of work was created using simple,  natural pigments extracted from slate, stone, earth/mud, plant juices, leaves, seeds, and “mixed organic media”, such as blood, semen, hair, and skin, plant residues, and saps, etc. These  materials, I felt, would have once existed as living entitities, and would therefore emanate some kind of biotic energy once transformed by my hand creatively.

Interestingly, and quite tellingly,  nearly all of these works were exhibited without a marked price or value, and they all eventually found a natural home with the people for whom I hoped they would resonate most, with no money exchanging hands. I hope those people still feel the power of those works in the way they were intended.

Fish Fetish

Fish Fetish Object, 1991

20 x 20cm approx,

mixed organic media: paper, earth pigments, fish oil and skin, fish skeleton, thorns, leaf pigment, blood, mould, glass base.

Some 23 years later then, Placements re-visits, and re-establishes that line of investigation, after a circuitous route that took me off into mail art, and subsequently, sound installation art, which kept me distracted until about 3 years ago.

The most recent works under the title of Placements still attempt to encapsulate an impalpable “seed memory” , an organic energy, with the exception that this time around they take the form of exchanges – transactions with the land, utilising remnants and remains, natural materials that nature has discarded.   These exchanges, these reciprocal acts, are the axis about which all other subsequent projects on this site rotate. Like the magnetic plasma fields that loop and arc from the surface of the Sun, they dissipate, vaporise, and re-connect to the land, interlocking, coalescing, and fusing PLACES, in a subtle exchange of  energy, between man and place, and place to place.

The name of this blog, PLACE, conveys meaning not only as a noun – place, as location, but also a verb – to place, to deposit, to leave something, a trigger for the memory, a seed, a catalyst, a prop for the imagination.

Thus, these disjecta membra, created from the land, are returned to the land , newly placed in the various locations that interest me, and have some kind of significance and potency in my imagination, they serve as way markers, interventions, minor alterations to the status quo, interlocking and binding to a site, and reciprocating its energy. Sequestered and housed in a new locale,these objects are still transforming a process in which they will deteriorate, and eventually decompose, merging once again with the land, further transformed.


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