Thalassic Trace | The Picture Room, Newlyn Art Gallery | August 2017
The word thalassic means ‘relating to the sea.’ Its etymology stems from the Greek word for ‘sea’; Thalassa, which is also the name of a marine goddess in Ancient Greek mythology, whose body was synonymous with the sea. From the figure of Thalassa it was believed that all ocean life was birthed.
I see the painted image as Thalassic. Born by Thalassa and characterised by qualities attributed to the elemental sign of Water. The way images transmit meaning feels fluid and slippery – more difficult to pin-down than in words. Meaning in them seems to shift and change like light on water, producing myriad readings as a result. Or it lurks inside the image, like a shadowed deep-sea creature, detectable yet indecipherable. Even the process of painting and its negotiation between chance and control seems like a watery business.
If the painted image is related to water then I understand the painting ground as governed by the elemental sign for Earth. Solid and durable, it holds images like a vessel, giving form and transport to their fluidity. It provides a safe-haven - a harbour for them to anchor, or it stands in combat with their liquidity, like a sea-defence braced for a storm.
I imagine the meeting point between image and ground, or between the solid and fluid, the known and unknown, as a shoreline. A liminal space resistant to mapping, that is subject to constant tides of change; A region where both meaning and the flow of influence is deposited then eroded and carried away. Thinking in this way makes sense of the varied and continuously evolving ways I perceive image and ground to reveal or conceal each other in order to communicate, not just in my own work but in relation to painting’s history and its waves of change. What interests me especially is how certain combinations of image and ground wash together and mark the shore in ways that seem incidental or purposeless –not requiring a second look. Then just sometimes - sometimes - they wash together in combinations that strike both eye and mind as deeply poignant. Something to hold on to.
The work in this exhibition is a record of this shoreline. The paintings are an archive, which reflect not so much the hunt for meaning as a fascination for the multitude of ways that meaning can be constituted, found and carried. Together they are a meditation on fluidity and the porousness of borders.