From Earth and Air

April 9, 2016

Artist statement for exhibition FROM EARTH AND AIR (Beaux Arts Bath 2016)


Wildness is an elusive force, found in the spaces between things, in emptiness, in the wind, or in the energy of a wave. It is chaotic and undefinable, its presence is felt intuitively, rather than being able to be grasped or seen like a tangible object. In this wild force there is a freedom and a beauty. Simultaneously it makes me aware of the forces which shape the natural world, while at the same time I am completely at one with them, of actually being part of the natural force. To quote Jackson Pollock, “I am nature”.


‘From earth and air ‘ is a series of sculptures in which I am developing the idea of wildness and the invisible forces that connect the land and sky . Shafts of sunlight , showers of rain , gusts of wind and thermals of air are all evoked by a carved surface that is gestural and energetic . By carving against the grain of the wood I am able to create a splintered and chaotic surface that embodies the raw energies of natural phenomena .


The recent works titled  ‘Illuminations’ are an exploration of the language of mark making. I am concerned with the line, as a physical record of our body’s capacity for movement and gesture, and it’s ability to embody and express energy, such as speed, torque, compression and flow. In this respect these pieces are a development of some of the ideas I have been working on in the series ‘Shadow Forms’ . Initially inspired by observing the shallow water of a stream, as the sunlight hits the surface of the water and the light is refracted, with the resulting lines on the bed of the stream being a myriad of shadow forms and illuminations. In these traces of the eddies and whorls of the current I see a physicality, similar to the movements of the body, and in particular a parallel with the choreography of contemporary dance.


The carving process is in itself a trace of movement and energy, although to make a line, or gesture everything that is not the line or gesture must be removed. In this sense the work is a record of negative space as much as it is a real and present form. I am seeking a sense of balance between a transitory  mutable experience of the reflective surface and the physicality of the object, a space where shadows have the same visual weight as solid form.


My use of the circle is significant. I find inspiration in its association with wholeness and as a metaphor for completeness, an eternal shape without beginning or end. I also see the circle as having a lens like quality. It is a space where lines and forms converge, a shape from which the arc of a line can reach out and beyond the edge of the sculpture and exist as an implied energy, extending across the wall and beyond. Sometimes the trajectory of the line will mean that it loops back on itself to re-enter the orbit of the sculpture at a different point.


In the wild landscape I find an energy and a sense of connection, giving form to this  energy is at the core of my work. Whether this is in the tangible movement of water, or the invisible forces such as the wind ,that shape the land. For me these experiences have a universal resonance, they exist in an eternal space where the elements and the land speak enduring truths .


Simon Allen   2016