Everything changes: impermanence is part of nature, even though it can sometimes feel strange. As we near the end of a year that has been marked by much change, we are pleased to present ‘Terra Firma’, an exhibition of three contemporary artists whose work addresses the nature of impermanence: Emily Allchurch, Jane Ward, and Nunzio Paci.
Emily Allchurch’s photographic collages reconstruct classical artworks using contemporary images, suggesting a thread of continuity between the past and the present. The Tower of Babel is a recurring motif, and the piece in this show is particular to Britain in 2017, when the country is in the midst of Brexit and at a crossroads in its history. It depicts a structure much like a fortress, imposing and powerful, yet shot through with a sense of uncertainty. Other works recall the Grand Tour and Imperial European architecture of the 18th and 19th centuries, capturing both the sense of imposing solidity together with the gradual creep of decay. Monumentalism, in Emily’s work, is always tinged with the fragility of temporality.
Jane Ward’s landscapes are captured in a state of flux. Her scenes are composed from numerous different images that are stitched together, then dissolved, and then exploded. Jane’s most recent work is from a residency in Gstaad in the Swiss Alps, and as such has a particularly mountainous theme and a sense of grandeur. Multiple perspectives are forced to share the same space till their sightlines become skewed and unsustainable. Up or down, solid or liquid, the old point of references become increasingly unstable. It is a shifting terrain caught at the point where dissolution is about to turn into creation.
Nunzio Paci’s paintings present visions of decay and rebirth suffused with an ethereal glow. On the one hand they are macabre, with their focus on taxidermy and anatomical drawings, but from these mortal ruins spring lush foliage, plants and flowers. Nunzio’s memento mori are a key part of a cycle of life, the loam that enables rebirth and regeneration. The dreamlike quality of his paintings suggest how the passage from one state of being to another also involves a shift of perspective, and a leap of understanding. This curious balance of analysis with elegance lends his works a sense of the Romantic and the Sublime.