My text to accompany Newcastle-based artist Lottie Consalvo’s recent exhibition mid-fall.
Alaska Projects, Sydney, 27 April – 15 May, 2016
Lottie Consalvo is contemplating time. Years, nano-seconds, moments of eternity, transition, points of no return – these moments of between and becoming are explored in her current series of abstract paintings.
Consalvo’s interdisciplinary practice includes performative and often quite specific autobiographical references and this collection of works represents not one, but a series of moments in time. They are observations of quietly transformative experiences – from her 12-month long durational performance, Compartmentalise in 2012, to her recent travels around Ireland absorbing its rough hewn beauty – all stone circles, limestone and rain – and its reverence for spirits and shrines.
This travel and Consalvo’s latest series of paintings have actually occurred in the middle of her latest 12-month durational piece, Desires, wherein she has given herself permission to do those things that make her happiest. The works in mid-fall do not explore any particular desire. What they reflect is Consalvo’s ongoing fascination with states of mind, in particular memory and how certain psychological states reflect physically and within the physical world.
In mid-fall Consalvo considers time, momentum and the nature of transition; something she is necessarily experiencing as a consequence of her long-durational performance work. Here, the habits and rituals of her everyday life are incrementally transformed by the terms of the work and she looks back only in order to observe her progress; to locate those tipping points of no return (which she so deftly illustrates in mid-fall (study) and then again in mid-fall). There is nothing regretful or nostalgic in these considerations, simply a conscious fascination with process, memory, transformation, and the possibility for ritual within it.
Shrines have long been of interest to Consalvo; as places for solitude, faith and reflection and in these works she draws on experiences of reverie – standing in the rain at Powerscourt Waterfall in Wicklow, Ireland – to her own small moments of ceremony – collecting and grounding coal from her garden fire to embed in her painterly surfaces – to create a series of visual spaces that resonate with the quiet emotional energy of these experiences.
Several works in the series, including Stones Fall Upon Tall Men, make direct reference to the visual forms of totems and shrines and in addition to the use of coal Consalvo has also used casting plaster. Drawn to its associative fragility and painterly qualities, she incorporates it both within the painted surface and sculpturally, to emulate the collections of stones. The contrast between these bright whites and the pure black only highlighted by the rest of Consalvo’s deliberately subdued palette of earthy, dark tones.
These recurring motifs – the stones, the totems, and these senses of falling or yielding towards new states of being – are necessarily abstract. Flying and Falling, one of the earlier works to be created in the series is unsurprisingly the most figurative and reflects another moment of transition within the series – away from the literal and didactic – towards something more instinctive and emotional.
By abstracting these notions of reflection, memory and momentum, Consalvo instead meditates on the power of certain places (be they literal, emotional or psychological) to bring about transition and change. So long as you have faith enough to let go.
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