…the places inside matter as much as the ones outside. It is as though in the way places stay with
you and that you long for them, they become deities.
A Strange Kind of Knowing is a touring exhibition of new commissions and recent work exploring the land, seasonal cycles, natural phenomena, intuition and nuance. Artists Verity Birt, Holly Bynoe, Kristina Chan, Fourthland, Susan Hiller, Katja Hock, Coral Kindred-Boothby, Penny McCarthy, Kate McMillan, Aimée Parrott, Chantal Powell, Tai Shani and Eleanor May Watson present works on paper, paintings, sculpture, video and installations that draw on alternative, marginalised and embodied ideas of knowledge intrinsically connected to the natural world. The exhibition opened at Arusha Gallery in December 2021 and launches with a Private View on the 4th February from 6pm till 9pm and is then open to the public 11am - 4pm from 5th February to the 13th March 2022.
How to Sway on Crick Hill (2020), a video work by artist, spiritualist and medicine woman Holly Bynoe shows the gentle movement of wild cane fronds at twilight in St James in Barbados, drawing on her deep interest in the spiritual and healing properties of plants, regenerative agriculture and ways of undoing the ‘plantation-ocene’. The work captures the ritual of walking, looking and listening in on a small plot of wilding land, which has since been razed to the ground as part of 40 year development programme.
Verity Birt’s screenprint In Dark Derision (2021) collages archival mythological images with ceramic artifacts, part of her ongoing research into the ancient and contemporary cosmology of Gaia. Drawing on anthropology, psychoanalysis, science and other practices to investigate knowledge or understanding that has traditionally been ignored, Fourthland’s installation Mola, Mola,re-imagines the ancient mola mola fish, with its huge roughly-textured skin and many mouths, as a ritualistic totem before which songs and stories are performed, and offerings made. In Coral Kindred-Boothby’s Keys/Conductors (2021), small sculptures made from burr oak threaded with copper wire conduct electricity from the skin to a receptor in intuitive ‘experiments’ where the objects are comfortable to hold and use.
Tai Shani’s watercolour painting Outsides and Erotics 13 (2021) is from a new series of poetic, intuitively driven considerations on her experience of separation from the world during lockdown. The familiar yet subtly changing view from the artist’s home hinted sometimes seemed fused with anxiety and danger, human contact reduced to screens and misconstruction, forcing a more intimate relationship to intuitive self.
Emerging from the forced ‘winter’ of the global pandemic, and taking place in the winter season, A Strange Kind of Knowing also subtly investigates phenomena such as the weather, the sea, caves, cloud formations and fire; lost knowledge and civilisations; and natural and psychological cycles of transformation.
Kristina Chan’s Survey (2020) explores the human relationship to the environment, grief and knowing in black and white photogravure prints alluding to early engravings from the age of exploration. The series of works document an untouched landscape on Gospers Mountain in New South Wales, Australia, before it was devastated by wildfire.
Susan Hiller’s print Rough Moonlit Night (2015) combines components from her ‘rough sea’ postcard series in a uniform grid, of giant waves cresting over cliffs and beaches, bombarding esplanades, grand hotels and piers, recalling in multiple the great tradition of the Sublime. The sea is also a forceful presence in My Body is A Cave (2021), Kate McMillan’s nine collaged works for A Strange Kind of Knowing. A series of photographs taken along the north coast of Cornwall looking out towards the Atlantic are torn to function like shards of memory, symbolic portraits of the personal, the mythical and folkloric, and of tragic, disparate moments in history and individual lives.
Known for large-scale painted installations examining the charged interiors of stately homes, Eleanor May Watson’s large-scale commission created for the exhibition, takes on the atmospheric weather of gothic novels. The monotype work utilises Japanese Hosho paper to evoke the transparency of rain, and its cleansing, cathartic and empathetic properties. Katja Hock’s silver gelatin print, Cloud (2021), from an ongoing series documenting individual formations, has evolved in parallel to another, recording pebbles found by the artist on woodland walks. Hock’s subtle observations draw attention to the transient flux and flow of the cloud in contrast to the vast geological time contained in the pebble on the ground.
Penny McCarthy’s sculpture Moon Egg (2018) is a blown hen’s egg delicately painted with a map of the moon to show its actual elongated form created by the gravitational push and pull of the Earth. Connecting cycles of the astronomical with the embodied, the work relates to early depictions of the moon by John Russell and Galileo, and the role of intuition in depicting individual perspectives and realities.
Aimée Parrot’s As Above so Below, Receiver and White Lip (2020) melds painting and printmaking with textiles and organic materials, in three reliquary-like works conjoining the global with the personal, recalling changing sea levels, creation myths and lost civilisations, and moments of domesticity or intimacy. In Blood Moon / Reddening, As It Ripens and There Is Nothing In Which I Have Not Been (2021), Chantal Powell’s labyrinthine ceramic sculptures are marked with constellations of red particles, signalling alchemical transitions around the cyclical lunar Albedo state, from white to red as life-giving ‘blood’ enters the works.