Tuesday, 16 July 2013

out in the I know nothing country

out in the I know nothing country
Solo exhibition of work by Patricia Wilson-Adams at Tamworth Regional Art Gallery
20 July to 31 August 2013
New South Wales 2340
T 02 6767 5248
F 02 6767 5249
walking on salt lakes 
2 plate etching and spit bite aquatint, 32.8 x 39.5 cm
Patricia Wilson-Adams has been out beyond the Great Divide, exploring “the I know nothing country”.  Far beyond her familiar surroundings, she is experiencing the still centre of her being and its awakening in the quiet nothingness of a vast and limitless horizon.
 Conceptually her work is related to an area now being described as Ecophenomenology or

 the fundamental re-conceptualisation of human relationships with the natural earth … necessary to help undo the damage stemming from a contemporary western history of separation from and utilitarian valuation and exploitation of the natural world.[i]

This may be further interpreted as a form of  "spiritual ecology", the acknowledgement of the inner connectedness of all living things as part of the planet's vital biofeedback system. The negation of the existence of the "World Soul", or the anima mundi, from our collective consciousness and lack of respect for the planet as a living conscious entity has exacerbated this separation. A re-acknowledgement of this sentiency now provides an avenue to restore wholeness, a return to balance, or, as Wilson-Adams refers to it, as "the centre". For her it is the still central point of being in relation to the self, to memory of land and those loved ones who have gone before, to our symbiotic relationship with the land and a connection encompassing the global.

out in the I know nothing country is an acknowledgement of country as a vast sentient entity that cannot be fully known or understood, where one's previous experiences and concepts are dwarfed by the effulgence and exultation of experiencing the natural world beyond our immediate environment.  She explores these dimensions through her printmaking and sculpture, seeking a deeper level in moving from the known centre to the circumference and back again to arrive at a new centre or point of awareness.

For Wilson-Adams the creative process is constantly informed through the distillation of thoughts and mnemonic experiences. The simple sensory act of smelling a peach evokes a deep heartfelt response to a shared memory with her late father. The bare peach stone, the centre or kernel of the fruit/memory/still point within the soul is projected into a series of small bronze sculptures, titled The smell of peaches always makes me cry. Much like the soul, the seed of the peach contains the matrix or blueprint for its own creation.

Dead trees, like dead women, don't write much poetry pays homage to the lives of women who have transcended the circumference of experience and have returned to the stillness of the centre. The concentric rings within the tree trunks signify cycles of growth, with each progressive circle an expansion on the circumference of the one that came before. The scientific study of dendrochronology records the life experience of the tree, just as each human life, memory and precious moment lived becomes embedded within the  work.
The retrieval of memory also serves as a means for discarding it – re-evaluations of associated thoughts, images and texts. The work Discarding memory acts as a kind of visual and verbal catharsis for stored memories.  Made from sections of previously used etching plates, brought to light again in a new context, the work surveys the "circumference" or the boundary between what is remembered and known, to be transcended as new juxtapositions of image and text.

In the out in the I know nothing country prints, a floating world of images are not anchored or contextualised in terms of scale. Pollen looks like blood corpuscles or cellular organisms or even atomic structure. Wire fences become repetitive markers, the man-made boundaries which enclose, define and constrain the natural world. Her Petri dishes are a microcosm of the wider landscape where she plays with our understanding of words and their layers of meanings. "Plough", both a noun and a verb, denotes the oldest of human tools and for millennia the implement used to tame and subdue the natural environment. Ploughs create patterns on a grand scale, the repetitive furrows in which the seed is planted. Similarly "field" is a simple word, yet charged with meaning; spatial, artistic, agricultural and spiritual. The field's circumference is fenced, the land is tamed and with those actions come the human concepts of ownership, inheritance and exploitation; nature is bent to the will of humanity. A balance between the two is needed and Wilson-Adams suggests this without being overtly didactic. Her literal and metaphoric wanderings in 'the I know nothing country’ are deeply felt and highly personal explorations into the still centre of both her own being and the natural world in which she lives and travels.

Rebecca Gresham
Freelance writer and curator

[i] [i] [1]