Playing with Shadows (wire drawings)

I’ve been experimenting lately with the use of shadows in my work, using “drawings” that i have made from wire and lichen – materials which allow light to stream through their negative spaces to create interesting effects.

Traditionally, the shadow can symbolise many things…darkness, evil, a ghost, a doppelgänger, an alter ego, or a false sense of reality.

In Plato’s Allegory of the cave, the people who are chained up and are forced to look at the wall, away from the light, perceive shadows to represent reality; as they have never seen the objects which cause the shadows.  To the viewer of the wall, all of reality is represented by shadows – a very skewed sense of reality.

Plato likens himself (as a philosopher) to a freed prisoner, who has “seen the light” of reality. He speaks of being blinded by the sun when he leaves the cave – this refers to the reaction of some when their beliefs are challenged or proved wrong…preferring instead to retreat back to their “prison” of what they knew before rather than to accept their new found knowledge or enlightenment.

Personally, this story raises mixed emotions – when wandering through familiar landscapes memories come flooding back. I think of how sometimes I would like to retreat back into the past…to happy, carefree times with no responsibilities, when my parents were younger and healthier, when I felt attractive and excited about what the future might hold. But the flip-side to this is the reality, the enlightenment, the ageing process, and the realisation of mortality.  For this reason, I feel that working with shadows is important to my practice – their ephemeral qualities also relates to some (but not all) of the materials I use, such as the lichen, ice and plants.

The first experiment of shadow maps I made was using the wire drawings of details in the landscape, which were grouped together and hung up before a torch was shone at them.

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One of the wire drawings which made up my part of my fictitious map

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First attempt at illuminating the wire using a small torch

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 Using the torch on an iphone…the shadows become much stronger

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   The shadows seem like they are engulfing the small space, blurring the boundaries between fantasy and reality

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The shadows are definitely more dominant than the wire and when the torch is moved they seem as if they are a living and breathing entity

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The ephemerality of the shadows also resounds with the fact that these maps are purely fictional, although they have been created from existing features on the walks that I sketched. They echo the landscape which is transient and ever evolving through erosion, development, the forces of nature and the events which have shaped it and are continuing to do so.

See some footage of the moving shadow to get an idea of just how 3-dimensional they appear, as if they are coming out of the wall towards you:

Water of Ruchil

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                                Solitary stravaiger

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Stepping back in time

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Helpless and uprooted

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Thirstily searching for Life

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Charred discarded memories

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Hide in empty vessels

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Bottled up Emotions

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Weeping with nostalgia

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Open eyes observing

IMG_1751Mossy melancholy

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Dark decaying circles

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Rings of life, and death

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Bearded branches bearing

islands

Overhanging islands

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Wizened witches fingers

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Slowly shedding skin

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The ancient paths where legions trod

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Adorned with hostile emblems

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Non-native invaders thriving

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Surviving futile floods

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Dryadic burrs lie twisted

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By shallow shifting sands

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Relics of rotten remains

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Receive a new awakening

gushing

Gushing rapids foaming

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to the Wild Boar’s Pool

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Constant flowing waters

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Reflecting on times past

IMG_3166Sunbeams over Nemeton

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Pierce the Veil of Sleep

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Sinister skeletal symbols

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Monuments to life

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Warped wefts of wisdom

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Frame palimpsestic paths

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Sacred standing stones

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Cover ritualistic remains

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Barbaric battlefields beckon

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Shackled and forbidden

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For those who draw the short straw

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Mortality confirmed

Comrie: Memories and Melancholy

Happy childhood, fond memories ….a haunted Victorian house, dens in the woods, climbing trees, swimming in the river, walks through the woods with a beloved pet.

The float parade, the Hay ride, guising on Halloween, and the Flambeaux on Hogmany.

The Royal Bar…pulling pints, old village “worthies”,  the 5 o’clock club,  the regulars, the gossip…a daily soap opera… theme tunes echoing from the jukebox.

A persistant customer…flattery and pursuit…an addictive romance…fame and fortune.

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Japanese Knotweed… memories of our “jungle” in the woods

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The “Black Pool”…swimming in deep water…floating on homemade rafts…a rope swing over the pool.

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Uprooted…removed from whence they came…helpless and exposed…aged and decaying…awaiting the inevitable…

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Roots searching…dried and brittle…seeking nourishment…thirsty for life

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Campfire songs….sausages sizzling…fun and laughter…burnt to a cinder…

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Clearing across the river….strangers  drinking beer…fugitives enjoying… their last days of freedom

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A handsome stranger…an invitation….an erotic encounter….a deep and fast flowing river…now a trickling stream

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Christmas afternoon….snow and ice…walking with my father and brother…snow crunching underfoot…crossing icy streams

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Once majestic…broken and splintered…mossy monuments of melancholy

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An intimate picnic…strawberries and alco-pops…expectations…disappointment

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A fresh white carpet…muddy footprints…traces of our presence…and new beginnings

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Rotting carcass…predators feasting…hollow and helpless

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Memories distant…fleeting moments…ghosts of the past…mortality confirmed

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