Reflections and Absences Text


As layers of memory exist in this house already, so I am adding more.

I share with you this house so close to the forest on one side that I can feel the pine needles pressing up against the glass. On the other side of the house is the sea. The house juts onto a wide beach as if rudely invading it. The fresh sea air whips my hair and fills my nostrils. In the forest the trees are packed in tight. The lamps by the entrance stay on even in the daytime it is so dark. And if you follow the path through the trees, you will find a lake, dark and still. Look into that deep lake as it plunges you deeper and deeper into the Landscape.

My journey into the landscapes you see in the exhibition started here at Maison Pelgrims; the dark interior of the hallway and the dark wood stairs, the etched stained glass windows beautifully obscuring the view outside. For me climbing the stairs was like mounting a pathway to another place, going deeper and deeper into the forest. It was here where in my imagination I dreamed about a forest I once saw that I glimpsed through mist on a hillside one New Years day in France. I began searching through my memories and archives looking for it and making new journeys to other forests in order to capture the essence of what I remembered.

The photos I take, the canvases I paint and reflections in my work are like windows on another world. Painting a canvas of one place can leave me journeying in my imagination to another as I listen to music while I work. Each frame, each image becoming an aperture to another time and space. Each place becomes connected to another moment by an object, an idea, a dream or an absent minded thought. Each moment resonates, becoming an echo of other times and places, existing in another dimension. I have spent a lot of time reading several works by Gaston Bachelard in order to justify my own reveries. In his book The Poetics of Space he writes about a folded image of a house and how one begins to occupy the drawing on studying it. He says:

It is a sort of strange situation. The space which we love is unwilling to remain permanently enclosed. It deploys and appears to move elsewhere without difficulty, into other times, and on different planes of dream and memory.’

In my imagination Maison Pelgrims refused to remain here in Brussels. Instead it travelled with me through my memories and imagination to other places. Now the threads of other times and different planes of dreams and memories occupy the walls. The other pine woods I visited echo the forest I saw here in my imagination and memory. The green slate of the installation Inner Lake isfrom Honister slate mine in the Lakedistrict and was mined in 2016 not too far from the hills in the installation Reflections created in 2004. The time in which I let the water of the la Roanne in la Drome, France, drum down on my head, becoming river, is here. Memories of a dust cloud above the hills in Ponferada, Spain, and the sea where I grew up have all become a part of me and now a part of this house. All these landscapes in which I have been immersed throughout my life all lead to this point in time and space. Now living here in part through images, they can continue to move elsewhere, becoming portholes to someone else’s memories and dreams. What appear to be insignificant moments throughout our lives become pertinent. Individual memories, experiences, hopes and dreams become part of a landscape in us which continues beyond the boundaries of physical existence; a landscape without borders, flags or limits at the heart of each person.

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