As part of the #Shuffle summer exhibition at Herrick gallery, tea tasting ritual event took place on Sunday 4 September 2016. The attendees sampled herbal blends of red clover, chamomile, linden blossom, meadowsweet, peppermint and rose hips. Presented medicinal herbs were sourced in the rural areas of Ukraine, Latvia, Italy and the UK. The discussion revolved around the history and aspects of ritual in daily life, history of shamanism, and the effects of art onto the viewer through the prism of the alleged medicinal properties of represented herbs.
For this new series of work, titled To Bring to Pass, I approach the key elements of symbolism in various media formats. As an initiate into the traditional practice of herbalism, I use its iconography and the sensuous medium of oil paint to produce a portrait of contemporary subconscious.
In the previous series of work titled Ukraine Diaries I painted clusters of small oil paintings - vignettes and snapshots of events in my life mixed with news and social media forming a visual diary. The intimacy akin to that evoked by the Flemish religious votives of personalised nature provided the viewer with the intense form of contact through small format and the focus on humanity of everyday life. The format of small paintings intended to draw in the viewer closer and invited for a dialogue about identity belonging and violence.
While the Ukraine Diaries series helped to connect my opinion to the greater circumstances, the new body of work lays claim to the painting’s’ ability to bring on the transformation, healing and change. The exhibition title takes its cue from Joseph Campbell’s Primitive Mythology.
The use of figurative painting medium explores its ability to transform and heal by the means of sympathetic magic or mythological associative thinking. The rituals, depicted in shades of gold, are designed to evoke a hope for transformation and relate to the historic forms of seeking change. The act of painting, as a form of a ritual, was employed by the prehistoric hunter-gatherer societies. The tribe shamans in particular, executed the cave paintings that consequently were expected to bring to pass such situations as they represented. * Thus the ancient rite of painting, akin to shamanistic ritual, assumes historical continuity and pushes itself forward into the present.
A tangent string of work – a series portraits that represent creative ways of healing war-induced stress – continue the Surrealists’ educated embrace of the magical through producing a deck of tarot cards in which they nominated their own heroes to represent the faces of cards. There is also an installation part of the work where the viewer experiences the ceremony of herbal tea drinking in a choreographed way in a visually loaded environment.
Exhibition details: Florence Trust Winter Open, 5 February, 6-9 pm, 6-7 February, 12-6 pm, St. Saviours, Aberdeen Park, London N5 2AR
Here comes the new studio and the new work inspired by the residency collecting medicinal and magical herbs in Eastern Europe.
The residency in July with the interdisciplinary artist group SERDE in Aizpute, Latvia pushed me towards exploring the magical thinking behind herbalism and how it relates to contemporary beliefs. The resulting drawings and text are scheduled to come out in a form of an artist book towards the end of the year.