Into the Light

Handmark Gallery
September 24 – August 13, 2021

I began planning this work nearly two years ago at a residency in France. Inspiring highlights came from visits to two extraordinary exhibitions: Cabinets of Curiosities in the small town of Landerneau and the 16th century Chateau d’Oiron collection in a small town near the residency.  Little did we anticipate the chaotic events which were about to unfold on our return home.

When the devastating bush fires occurred, I started collecting wooden fire screens with some thoughts of creating barriers to the images which we were seeing daily on our TV screens. The tapestry images the screens initially contained revealed utopian worlds, which were now in the process of being obliterated and I began recreating my own versions of these scenes. At the same time I was also making work for Van Diemensland, an exhibition in the Netherlands.

The arrival of the pandemic and the accompanying lockdown led to a period of enforced self-reflection.  The future was uncertain and I found myself reaching back into past memories from which to create new imagined worlds. Recurring images in my work, such as the full moon, fish and flamingo became my personal cabinet of curiosities and I reflected on their origins at a time when we travelled the world so lightly. Many were collected from France, including the sculpture of the fish from the Arab Museum in Paris and the flamingo and budgerigar from the Natural History Museum in La Rochelle.

It was affirming to find that most of these images were symbols of hope and positivity, as in the power of the full moon to control aspects of nature as well as our capacity for contemplation and adaptation. And red fish are supposed to attract good fortune as does the elephant, horse and swallow.

Linking these images enabled me to create stories through the work as I reflected on how much I valued the special and meaningful connections with people in my own world.

Dawn comes after the darkness

Lisa Wingate