In this exhibition of recent paintings we find ourselves sheltering from a snowstorm in the Home-Studio of an unknown artist. Clad in warmly coloured wooden paneling, the walls are home to a myriad of objects and images. Windows which are left ajar allow gusts of snow to occasionally blow in, connecting the interior and exterior spaces.
(I personally think of the artist as a woman. She lives alone and keeps to herself. She is not a particularly successful artist and rarely shows her work. However, there is nothing within the paintings that gives us any of this information.)
In ‘Work-bench with Underwood’ a typewriter sits, loaded with a blank page, and accompanied by blank note-books. On the wall hangs various hand-tools and a print of ‘Hunters in the snow’ by Pieter Bruegel. (Note; The black scissors can be seen in reference to the black swan motif that repeats within the other paintings. The black handles of the hanging hammers can be seen as a reflection of the tree-trunks in ‘Hunters in the snow’. The fluttering petals of the purple oxalis plants echo falling feathers and also form a relationship with the butterflies in their glass display cases.)
After viewing the other works we come to realise that the Artists dwelling is actually based within the fictional landscape that Bruegel has depicted. Glimpses of the frozen lakes and jagged mountain range can be seen out of windows and beyond the row of buildings in the snowy ‘Swan Inn’.
In the boldly graphic and near-monochrome ‘Black Swan’ we encounter the death of a magnificent ornamental bird. Its red beak mirrors its wound. Black feathers burst outwards and mingle with snowflakes behind the falling Swan.
Back inside the retreat we see that the death of the black Swan was an incident experienced by the Artist. As in a number of the interior paintings we see the maquettes she has made in response to this experience. Elegant coloured lumps hang in the balance. While others are penetrated and skewered.
Plants, objects and furniture from my own home find their way into the painted studio. A photo of the medieval gate-house which was my first home as a child is tacked to a wall. The other images within the paintings skip through art history. From Michelangelo’s ‘Leda and the Swan’ through Bruegel, Munch, Matisse, Magritte and Moore. We can even see a winged vase inspired by the British ceramicist Colin Pearson on one of the shelves. From analysing the dates of these art-works we begin to form a rough idea of the time period the paintings could be set in.
Being ‘Holed Up’ can also be referred to as ‘Going to ground’. Thematically, the idea of gravity runs through the whole exhibition. Weight and balance play a key role in the maquette paintings. The tools used to make the artworks and the source-images used for inspiration are nailed to the walls. While shelves hold the weight of various plants and objects. In ‘House of Cards’, the Tower gives way as cards flutter down to earth echoing the falling feathers and snowflakes in the works around it.