Microcosmographia brings together four women artists (Black Gin, Irene Wellm, Janice Gobey and Naomi Bishop) working with themes of science and nature, the earth bound and geology, cosmology, mythology and universal/cosmos sciences.
The work of these artists examines aspects of the natural world in detail to reveal an arcadian beauty tainted by pollution with a sense of deep foreboding. Apocalyptic skies – desolate landscapes – introduced species – animals that can be friend or foe – objects that are simultaneously weapon and talisman, wish and curse.
These artists are bound together in a world in which humans are absent. A world which, no longer seems fictional or fantastical but perhaps inevitable. Red skies, denuded trees, shards of broken crystal, burial grounds – strange deities, apocalyptic skies, the charred remains of primordial forests, and heavy, purplish air that’s too thick to breathe. Nature will always take back control.
We are all on a journey to find the new normal. Jung called it a “night sea journey” in which the light of the consciousness intentionally descends into the dark, watery world of the unconscious, where no road maps suffice. Will we find our way back into the light?
Essay from Marion Piper for the exhibition:
The heart of all things
When the green flash came, there wasn’t a thing anyone could do. There were warning signals, for sure, yet capitalist imperatives were deemed more important.
So when ‘turning a blind eye’ became a marker of the sacred, the threads that bound humanity together snapped, one by one. Now all that’s left are a few tribes, mutant creatures and the echoes of a war cry shouting, “it’s not too late… it’s NOT too late… it’s not –
Here, in the remnants of the 21st century, we follow five souls. They’re each making their way to meet, to come together, at the heart of all things.
In this, our tiny world study, I invite you to take a deep breath.
Inhale… and exhale.
The sum of all parts is easier to deal with than the whole. Overwhelm is a dis-ease and nostalgia is a safe house. So, in the comfort of a repeating talismen – in this case a horse – you can admire strong lines, colours dancing across your eyelids and the endless clip-clop of memory.
When things get tough (as they invariably do) a sense of the familiar is like a mother’s hug. Doing the same thing, over and over and over, used to be dismissed. Now, it’s a salve. While ritual has become a coping mechanism against the torrential downpour of bad news, death and ecological despair that each new day brings.
Take another breath, friend.
When life is reduced to its smaller, singularly significant moments, the power of simplicity rings true. And maybe instead of the anxiety consuming one’s sense of self, microcosmographia consumes the anxiety, spitting out fear and worry like a baby trying lemon for the first time.
Nature’s eye is fixed on humanity for the first time ever. She looks at us with a gentle knowing as we slowly carve her to pieces, one inch at a time. Yet she is the one who has had the last laugh. In one last act of cause and effect, Gaia curses humanity for its crimes against her body and spirit.
And for a long time, the Earth was quiet.
As a species, we devolved and perished. Then, as if by chance, we mutated and evolved. Our bodies, twisted like vines, grew new and phantasmagorical limbs.
In a matter of months we became the myths and legends we celebrated for centuries. Except this time it was real.
When toxic chemicals were slowly drip fed into food and water supplies, what did they THINK would happen? Our leaders blindly followed the dollar into an early grave while the rest of us were left to clean up a mess we neither created nor asked for.
Standing on the edge of madness, our five souls ask: why didn’t anyone listen?
If you’re wondering how we got here, you’re not the only one. History speaks in stops and starts about our current predicament. But What came before was soft, round and gentle to the touch. All that remains is rubbery, burnt and sharp. This is not the land we were blessed with.
Animals seek Sanctuary in the most unlikely places here. Behind broken tree stumps, under the scrub and in between the hills. And against the backdrop of a sunburnt sky their fur stands on end – where did all the people go? But they don’t dare ask these questions out loud.
It’s not even about Survival anymore. We’re way past that.
Beneath the layers of protection – the hide and the bones – lies an intricate network of feelings. Pulsating. Ready to rupture forth. These creatures carry thoughts and opinions in their DNA, the very foundations of life.
The only problem was that there was no one left to tell, no one left to ask and no one left to embrace when the nights became cold and listless.
Every hero’s journey starts with a realisation.
Marnda Grik spent countless hours contemplating the end of days before it actually happened. She saw the devastation a generation ago and felt the collective grief in each one of her eight legs. One for each path not travelled; one for each path taken.
She spun precious stories and a narrative for our five souls to follow. It’s her Country. Everyone kept getting caught in her stories when they were here exploring. Stories can be sticky when they’re true.
It’s not even about fear anymore. We’re way past that.
She cocoons in paperbark, weaving a reality that not many can see. Stretching her legs through time, she connects to those who have come before – and those who will come after. Each strand of her web is a part of her lineage, somewhat fractured by colonial beasts, yet becoming stronger with every word.
When the sky turned to fire, the earth turned to mud. Human feet were trapped in the sludge, but Marnda Grik danced along the earth, taking her stories with her, knowing exactly which trees to talk to and where the water would continue to flow.
After what had seemed a lifetime of endless searching, our five souls arrived. With restless spirits they crawled towards the Stargate, ready to throw their bodies down and rest. Yet the time to be silent and ignorant was Anathema to them. They somehow found a Refuge Tonneau (a space of reflection) in which to pause and find clarity.
There’s no need for a Banishing Wand here; all that was once lost has now been found, and everything else is gone. In this space, our five souls find common ground. They see the devastation, they feel the sadness of nature. Together, they cry and hold each other up, locked in an interconnected embrace.
Before long, creatures of all sizes and ilks rush to their feet. Curling around their ankles and pressing faces to skin. It’s a circle of living care; breathing as ONE, thinking as ONE, and understanding as ONE.
This is the heart of all things: we are intimately bound on an atomic level to one another. What happens to you, happens to me. So, the question arises: what will you do now to make sure we’re all going to be okay?