Part of Totally Thames 2019, Thames Narratives was an exhibition of four artists at the Mernier Gallery London.
Staging an encounter with the Thames through Chance procedure
To engage with the river in such a way that human intention or gesture doesn’t dominate, I employed John Cage’s idea of ‘chance procedure’. For this, you devise a collection of actions, choose a group of objects, paint colours, brushes etc, and then throw a dice to determine which combination you use. Chance procedure reduces the amount of choice and control you have thereby opening up a free space of potential which can also be thought of as an opening into nature. I also borrowed from John Cage the idea of painting around objects, so the human mark is limited to a tracing. You are following the shape of the object itself rather than making a human representation of it. Cage painted around river stones. The Thames, being a crucible of human and non-human elements throws up a more complex variety of stuff so I used what I found on the foreshore: Chalk, flint, bone, rubber, metal, ceramics and wood. However, chance procedure is only one element in the painting, there is unavoidably choice involved as well; which way up do you lay the stone? Where do you start circling the stone with the brush? at what point do you stop? But incorporating even an aspect of chance opens up a free space like a wind running through the process.
In this open element, I am looking for a moment where there is a mutual human/nature action at work. This is not a fixed destination or a precisely definable thing but it exists. The aim is to touch on it, make it visible and weave in and out of it.
Thames Narratives iii – Acrylic and Giclee print on canvas, 25” x 50”
Thames Narratives ii – Acrylic and Giclee print on canvas, 25” x 50”
Thames Narratives i – Acrylic and Giclee print on canvas, 25” x 50”
Thames Narratives v – Acrylic and Giclee print on canvas, 25” x 50”
Thames Narratives iv – Acrylic and Giclee print on canvas, 25” x 50”
Thames Narratives vi – Acrylic and Giclee print on canvas, 25” x 50”