If my heart skips a beat
It’s because it’s in your hand
To catch the rhythm of your pulse
That breathes in a waltz in my ear.
If my heart skips a beat it’s because
It’s up in your eyes
And the warmth of your mouth.
If my heart skips a beat, a beat, a beat.
If my heart skips a beat
It’s because there exists
A flush of my love
In your deep crimson heat.
If love was wild
If love was wild
It would be a wolf
Hunting and howling and
Ravenous as the dark.
Dominance, masquerading as
Leadership, will soon
Bite at your heels until you
Fall, while strong jaws will
Take you by the throat
And shake you out like a
Tablecloth or an old handbag,
Breathe hotly on your neck
And sniff you out until
There is nothing but a trail of
In the snow.
If love was tame
It would be a dog
Faithful and loyal and
Warm in your bed
But always a descendent of
I have been exploring Zulu bead symbolism and the layers of identity in my birth country of South Africa. It has been an almost ritualistic process and highly rewarding. It will be combined with several other layers of process in order to convey some of the implications of colonialism and some of the more subtle invasions like the Victorian botanical garden.
Beginning with the bead work, I had to move to a loom to ensure the work had a more professional finish and was able to properly convey the skill of the Zulu women in my home town of Durban. It was interesting how the beads, like Victorian floriogrpahy had a symbolic value for courtship and ritual communing.
Next I needed to combine this with flower symbolism and the embroidery craft of the victorians by using circular wooden frames and images I had created of flower centres. In particular the popular rose, lily and tulip flowers.
Mindy Lee’s title for her works ‘Birth and the Baby Game’ for the exhibition ‘Bodies Undone’, held in the Blyth Gallery, Imperial Arts College, London is possibly as loaded as the exhibition name itself. For most mothers who have experienced birth and babies, they are aware that ‘game’ is clearly ironic and a useful pun suggesting fun but challenge. Or perhaps it is the mind undone, for the game certainly begins there and the mind is after all connected to the body. If the mind or consciousness is removed, if the body is ‘undone’ from its frame, from its skin packaging, then how does it all hang? Birth and babies affect the body physically and mentally. There is ‘hardware’ and ‘software’ involved in this game. So the viewer must ask themselves: ‘What is the body when it is not entirely ours, connected with umbilical cords, almost parasitically; through DNA and genetic labyrinths? Here in this space of creation, two is one and one is two.
In Mindy Lee’s fabric paintings, the fabric represents this paradigm of two as one. It is the fabric of the body, of nerves and tissues and fibres. Thus the stitching is symbolically connecting these bodies and these parts, as the two fight to be one or indeed to be separate. The clothing from Lee’s actual pregnancy creates a nostalgic umbilical cord, a fabric or fabricated link. In another way, the clothing, in the act of becoming an artwork, ‘preserves’ the momento, much like mothers who keep their baby’s tag or umbilical cord etc. The process of motherhood and domesticity becomes part of the creative process, which for parents of small children cannot be separated out. The profession cannot be separate from the maternal role: sometimes there remains a feeling of either beautiful symbiosis and at other times parasitism. But lets be honest, childbirth and procreation are in themselves the elemental and most original form of creation.
The other work that caught my attention in the show because of my own recent revival in my own drawing practice, was the charcoal hand gestures of Susan Sluglett. They are a visual exploration of the hand in process, as well as communication. Just as the hand draws lines and erases, so is there a sense of movement in the drawings through the erasing of sections and then drawing on top of this. The smudging becomes a shadow of time. It reminded me of the work of William Kentridge but with signs rather than narrative. The rough lines and working are reminiscent of the artistic process of testing and working with the materials. The way the hands are finished off is not entirely like that of traditional figure drawing studies. They are cut off by a line which makes it appear almost sculptural and connotes a whole new level to the concept of the ‘body undone’. These are not hands, they are gestures, signs, gloves, amputations even – a visual language in line.
© bianca hendicott
If it is not the clashing red against black or visual remnants of charcoal that captivate the viewer, then it is the fragments of architecture juxtaposed with the bare, skeletal remains of trees that does it. The large scale paintings by Tony Bevan are an interesting blend of representational and abstract elements brought together through the repetition of colour and material.
There is something simultaneously structural and yet apocalyptic, as if the works have photographically captured the moment before collapse or the moment after a lightening strike. Some works merely hint at structures like roofs, while the two tones and flat forms, hint at depth and perspective.
His pigments are a rich mix of acrylic paint over charcoal. The charcoal that remains on canvas suggests something quite industrial and adds texture, yet on another level it signifies something abandoned, memory or even nostalgia. All of these spaces are devoid of figures and life. They are relics of another time: monuments to industry, workers, unions, mining and perhaps even suffering.
So I had read about Tacita Dean’s drawings before this exhibition and her love for all things analogue, so I was intrigued and a little daunted to see some of her work up close and personal. Which I guess, for landscape is the enveloping purpose: to swallow up the viewer in all things powerful and sublime. I have to admit – I felt awed by an avalanche of form. Not simply by the scale but by the materiality itself. Some of her work is done on board, plates and some on slate. Slate itself is landscape. Isn’t it?
The viewer is drawn in because all at once you are looking at a landscape and then a drawing and then some words on a ‘blackboard’ and it makes sense suddenly as both physical materiality and thought. The inclusion of the almost washed out words creates psychological landscapes or word landmarks of the artist in process. Her identity or thoughts become fused with the landscape. There is a definite sense of nostalgia and a respect for traditional mediums (which I had already gathered from her love of analogue). But there was something else about the clouds that drew me in, more than her rock collection or the tree painted in gauche. Although I must say, I spent quite a long time looking at what are technically ‘mutant’ four, five, six, seven, eight and nine leaf clovers… Luck on a large scale in perspex boxes just didn’t seem so lucky anymore. It was an archive and collection. Someone behind me suggested you could get these on eBay now and suddenly the magic vanished like an exposed card trick.
But those clouds … They represented something murky, even erased in white chalk. It was a type of creative defiance, painting on boards reserved in the past for letters and an educational system alone. They are soft and white against a very cold and hard surface. They are thought and dream in one moment. They were my favourite.
And the film? It was interesting. I found it hard to follow two narratives at the same time but suspect that was the point. Often we have a narrative in our head that contrasts with that spoken in reality. Usually I am good at multitasking but this perplexed me: two voices juxtaposed. Not just two voices, but multiple narratives in myth and identity. I had to concentrate. I enjoyed having my eye or my view played with by splicing and two films run simultaneously. I also loved the fire, moon and sunset metaphors that ran throughout the film. It was magic and autobiography told through myth and documentary.