Saturday, 14 June 2014

'Without Us There Is Only Mud' : A Closer Look at the Work of Mark Primus

After reviewing the 'Without Us There is Only Mud' exhibition, I was delighted to receive this wonderful photograph by Mark Primus who was featured as one of the nine artists/ photographers. I had seen this photograph at the exhibition although was unable to find it afterwards to review! 

Therefore, here is my review of this wonderful piece by Primus, interpreting the poem 'No U.N. Intervention' by Brian Kinlan:

Stunted growth
The only measure left
Of a once giant cloud bearer
A desolate patch that contains
Enough physical evidence
For those willing to prosecute a crime

Primus' interpretation of a poem by Brian Kinlan
The immediate focus of the piece was the definite skull shape stretching along the bark of the tree. This gives connotations of death and fear, themes which could also be symbolised by the birds, in particular crows which are also symbolic of death and bad omens. 

Subtle red (bloody) markings including a hand print, imply a crime scene which reflects on the last line of the poem 'For those willing to prosecute a crime'. It is clear that Primus thought of every last detail with the portrayal of crime including several notions which relate to this theme including: the red markings implying blood, the skull embedded into the bark of the tree, the symbolic crows and the sign reading 'KEEP OUT'- a clear indication that something terrible has happened within this scene.

Personally, I love the more subtle and delicate smokiness of the clouds in the background. This insinuates a more fantasy-like notion within the piece that could represent the spirits of those who had been caught in this 'death trap'. This perhaps suggests a greater sense of 'crime' and death than may initially be implied.

In relation to the poem, Primus has interpreted it well and the viewer can see a distinct relation between the poem and photograph. In particular I noted the heavy clouds in the piece reflect on the line 'Of a once giant cloud bearer' and the tree has deliberately been chosen to reflect on the opening line of the poem 'Stunted growth'.

Overall, this piece is very strong and an effective interpretation of Kinlan's poem. The subtle red tones break up the monotones in the image, whilst the detail and connotations within the piece make the viewer left wanting to know more about the story behind the image.

Thanks for reading,


Sunday, 8 June 2014

Pop-up Exhibition:Without Us There Is Only Mud

Apologies for my lack of blogging lately! I am back on track and ready to tell you all about my latest artistic ventures.

So I was kindly invited to a pop-up exhibition back in May by one of the featured photographers, Alex Moldovan, therefore I could not refuse! The exhibition named 'Without Us There Is Only Mud' was organised by The Unpretentious Arts, an Arts House run by a passionate couple, Brian and Antonia Kinlan. 
The exhibition explores nine different interpretations by four photographers and five artists, of nine poems written by Brian Kinlan. Initially when I arrived at the event, I was astounded by the amount of people who turned up to see the wonderful artists! This made it difficult to interact with the artists themselves, however I was able to view their work without any knowledge of the poetry which inspired each piece. This approach was refreshing and allowed me to gain my own perspective of each work rather than being influenced by the text which they had interpreted. Even so, I did get a copy of the poetry collection after viewing the work which gave me a better insight into the intentions of the artists/ photographers. 

'Devils in Our Midst' by Caitlin Sagan
As a collective, I found the themes of most pieces to be quite similar with clear elements of nature in each. This was very definite in the first photograph I viewed by Caitlin Sagan who appeared to draw on ideas of isolation and mystery, not giving too much away in the image. Though initially my eyes drew me to the darkness in the foreground, I was unable to ignore the light in the background which suggested an earlier time of day. This seemed intentional when reading a line of the poem 'There seems panic this morning'. Daylight can be associated with safety and joy, though in this photograph I get a sense of a juxtaposition between the innocence of light with the fear of the shadows.

The next set of work interested me greatly with Brian Lewis' drawings which he even admitted to be quite illustrative. The set of drawings were presented in a triptych style; the subject of the images being very open to interpretation. Dark, thick lines gave a comic-strip feel to his work; the bright blue background enhanced this notion.

Brian Lewis, left, standing in front of his illustrative triptych. Photograph by Alex Taylor.

I was very pleased to manage to talk to Lewis about his work and view it from the artist's perspective. His illustrations were seemingly created using charcoal, but I was soon corrected and was told of the true media, "woodys". Having never heard of this media before, I was especially impressed by the artist's passion to gain and use such a unique form of material. Lewis then went on to say how his creations were made "in front of the television" and straight from his imagination. This was an admirable quality to have and demonstrated his abilities as an artist. I was given a new perspective of his work when he picked up some of his drawings, turning the pages to allow me to see a variety of imagery within individual pieces. Overall, Lewis was pleasant to speak with and even demonstrated an interest in myself as a budding illustrator, offering advice.

Briony Sulivan's painting interpreting poem, 'Last of the Mohicans'.
Photograph by Alex Taylor
Tray Tronic and Briony Sulivan were the next artists I came across. Tronic made an abstract piece full of bold colour using oil paint, whilst Sulivan used vibrant acrylics to make a beautiful fairytale piece. Pamela Lum's beautiful watercolour illustrations were also featured, interpreting the poem with the title of the exhibition 'Without Us There Is Only Mud'.

Below, Alex Taylor's  eerie yet stunning interpretation of Kinlan's poem 'Forced Eviction'. Focus is immediately drawn to the fallen tree among its structured neighbours relating well with the line 'Movement is strange when used to standing still' from the poem. The nature is personified in relation to the poem giving a sense of life and emotion. Reflections in the river give depth to the image, whilst portraying the image in black and white insinuates there is something dark and unknown within the image.

Alex Taylor's 'Shore Line', interpretation of poem written by Brian Kinlan

Moving along the exhibition, Alex Moldovan presented a conceptual piece of photography with the title 'Trapped'.

'Trapped' by Alex Moldovan
I love the way the photographer made the arms appear to have the same texture as the bark of the tree as though the branches have taken human form. It is very effective and makes the tree behind the subject (self-portrait) come to life immediately. This reflects one particular line of the poem 'Merchants of Death' by Kinlan - 'Chippings give an aesthetic appeal'. The density of the forest gives a sense of isolation which can reflect the title 'trapped' quite easily, as well as the subject being physically 'trapped' among the 'arms' of the tree. Regardless of the idea of being trapped, the subject does not appear to be resisting; this may be in response to two of the lines in the poem: 'I no longer contain any fight, Or defiance'. Overall, this piece is effective and reflects the chosen poem very well.

Photograph by Mark Primus
Finally, I was able to see the work of Mark Primus and Mark Lawrence. Primus' work mainly had a definite focus on nature, although there were some cute portraits of babies which I couldn't resist saying 'awww' too! One image which stood out in particular was presented in his portfolio. Shown on the right, the detail of the leopard immediately stood out to me. Initially, I hadn't even noticed the subtle human portrait merged in with the animal. The sharpness and striking composition left me 'wowed' by this amazing piece.

Artists in front of Lawrence's contemporary piece.
Lawrence's work was completely unique in comparison to the other work displayed in the exhibition. The abstract artwork forced me to have a closer look at the piece and ponder over the possibilities of its meaning. Visible more from a side view, Lawrence had made his piece stand out in a 3-D effect using mixed media, possibly mount board, to make the geometrical shapes stand out. The title of the poem the artist interpreted 'X Marks the Spot' made the hint of yellow in his piece make much more sense than when I initially viewed the piece.
Overall, I was impressed by the diversity between each piece of work I saw at the exhibition. The turn out was amazing and it was clear that it was a great success! A great chance to see the artists/ photographers work and meet them in person.