The works for this exhibition continue my interest in the natural world. Moving to a house with a studio situated in the midst of a big garden, I have been able to observe the ever-changing nature of that space. The many life cycles that are a part of the garden have highlighted the fragility and transient nature of not only the plants that surround me, but of all living things. Subject to the vagaries of the elements and human intervention, the balance between life and death is easily tipped.
Aspects of time are woven into each of these paintings, whether a brief glint of sunlight captured on a leaf, a pause as something is suspended mid fall, or references to symbols traditionally used by artists from the past, in particular those of the Dutch Baroque art of the 17th -18th century. During that period, flower painting flourished, servicing a market for still life paintings created by the widespread prosperity of the Dutch economy. Vanitas paintings were also popular, and incorporated certain objects used to symbolise the transient nature of life, and to remind the viewer of their own mortality. These symbols included skulls, bubbles, smoke and flowers; items such as peeled fruit or an overturned wine glass served to suggest a presence no longer there. Though these symbols may not carry the same weight today as they once did, the brief life and fragile nature of a cut flower, for example, still has the power to remind us of life’s transience.
Drawing inspiration from the artists of the Baroque, these paintings are also concerned with the play of light and the effect it can have on the otherwise overlooked, revealing hitherto unseen details and colours.
Di Cubitt March 2011