A solo exhibition by Lindy Solomon. October - November 2018.
Gallery 196, Cape Town. Read the artist's statement >
UNEARTH | Artist's Statement
An act of remembrance – unearthing memory from the past and the future to remember the present.
This body of work has been created over the past two years and was mostly inspired and generated in the Groot Winterhoek mountains in close communion with the natural world.
My creative practice is based on the principle of working with no-mind, intuitively and responsively, allowing the emergent creative process to lead the way. Once the body of work reaches completion, the layers of meaning are revealed.
This work speaks about reconnecting with the soul of the Earth and rediscovering the intimate communion and visceral connection that we as humans once had with the Earth, encoded in our cellular memory and often only accessible in childhood.
The work speaks about denuded forests, vulnerable and endangered trees, vanishing childhood, the loss of innocence and naturalness, our environmental crisis, our fall from Paradise. It is also about hope and finding the seeds of potential to rekindle this lost relationship.
Humanity is rapidly losing connection with the Earth and children are now at risk of ‘nature deficit disorder’ through addiction to technology and lack of sensory engagement. We have become Un-Earthed, removed from the Earth, and we do damage against her, our mother. This unearthing has caused a kind of ‘psychic shock’, resulting in the feelings of isolation, alienation and depression which are so endemic to our time.
It is now urgent that we reconnect the Earth to recapture a visceral sense of the world and regain contact with the profound magic of Nature. This vital bond which creates deep love and connection and therefore empathy, care and concern for the Earth is our only hope for the future.
The creative process for this body of work began with the haunting image of a bare white tree, stripped of bark and leaves and without roots. This symbolic tree, with its exposed skeletal bone structure and twisting reaching branches, compelled me to work with it again and again in a myriad of ways. As I experimented with the naked tree, it began to reveal its significance as a symbol, holding many questions: Is the tree dead or alive, a dormant winter tree full of potential? Is it present or absent, leaving a negative space where it once grew? Is it real or a memory, only an imprint of what was there before? Is it mutable or eternal? Is it endangered or vulnerable, needing protection, like the Milkwood, the Kokerboom, the Clanwilliam Cedar, the Baobab and the Yellowwood? This symbol of the bare tree, silent in its stark beauty and filled with longing and striving, still lives strongly in me and I continue to live into it, as more layers of meaning are released over time.
At first, the trees were always accompanied by children in close communion with them – tending them, carrying them, honouring them, witnessing them, protecting them. The children are the guardians of the trees and have a deep knowingness – they know the world is animate and alive and do not have to be reminded of this. They seem to carry the trees like precious vulnerable evidence, as if saying to us, “What have you done?”
Unearthing these personal and collective memories from the past felt like an archaeological experience and led to highly stressed surfaces which are deeply layered and etched.
By contrast, the memories unearthed from the future, called for a hands-off approach and a lighter touch in the artmaking process – echoing the imperative for a lighter human footprint on the earth.
Many of the artworks drawn from the future, also hold ambiguity. The Seed Fossils could be seeds which hold the potent blueprint for the potential growth of trees or are they tree fossils found in a future time where there are no longer trees on our planet? The Acacia series suggest fossilized memories where perhaps we as humans, are also only an imprint left behind.
The Fynbos Vibration paintings express the distillation of the essence of the fynbos growing wild in the mountains and raise the question of whether they too will be just a memory, a remnant, a vibration shimmering on the breeze. However, these works also speak about a deep immersive connection with Nature, where boundaries between forms melt and we feel at one with the natural world again, part of one cohesive energy field. The Barely There series holds the possibility of harmonious co-existence with the natural world, yet could be just delicate traces of what no longer remains.
This body of work is an act of remembrance, reminding us to remember both the past and the future to bring mindfulness to the present, to connect deeply with the Earth through all our senses and to hear and feel and grasp what is needed. Joseph Campbell’s quote is a clarion call to us all:
“And so now it is the dry branches, not the green, of the universal tree around which the heavens spin, that must be grasped and painfully climbed”.