Onto Into Above #6, 2017 Raw pigment, graphite on panel 36″ x 84″/91 x 213cm
Onto Into Above No.5 Raw pigment, graphite on panel 48″ x 84″/117 x 213 cm
Onto Into Above #1-4
Acrylic, graphite paint, graphite
117 cm square
In sit, Lamorva House (Woodlane Campus, Falmouth University)
Interview below excerpted from the Tender to the Sea catalogue. JM is PhD candidate Jo McCallum.
JM ~ Onto Into Above, the paintings. Colour! The colours of the sea. When we started this conversation, I mentioned the colour palette being quite seasonal, quite dark, whereas these paintings, you have used some of those teals, those blues, greens, even the lime green of summer. What changed here?
SM ~ These paintings were made in January. They were made for two reasons: I needed colour and I needed to paint. I hadn’t painted in over six months and I was starving for it. It’s part of who I am, like music, or reading, or walking. So they were made in the winter and were partly a result of trying to describe to people about where I was living. I kept saying that it is a land of impossible colours and unbelievable light, and that was how I was describing Cornwall to people. I hadn’t seen some of these colours anywhere else except here. That, in tandem with the light and the weather. I wanted to try to translate those aspects into painting. So they were mostly done in the winter, then I added the white corner curves in the summer to give an additional viewpoint, a counterpoint to the colour field.
JM ~ When I first saw them I thought the sea is a chameleon! You’ve captured so many of those seasonal changes. It’s interesting that from January to summer you’ve come out of hibernation and away from this darkness. And you have shadows here. Shadow boats. Again, they don’t look adrift…they almost look as though some of them are beached but they are travelling into this light…
SH ~ They are. In some ways the paintings draw upon photography. The boats being quite realistic and the white area is showing light refraction. I had hoped to make the central white area an ambiguous place, asking where the boats are going, or coming from. They could be directed to more of the same, or to nothingness, or to everything. And the shadow is obviously the same shape as the boat but it is a void, a gap.
JM ~ These are far more evocative of life and death than the other work; perhaps an imagined world. This is an afterlife…and a soul. And moving backwards or forwards, or emerging from it. There is far more of that quality.