Anima Mundi are delighted to present ‘The Waters of Dwelling’ by Rebecca Harper, her second solo exhibition at the gallery incorporating small and large scale paintings and accompanying objects.
Made over the past two years, works address both selfimposed ritual and consolation, and perform as a flowing marker for both endings and beginning resultant from profound and ongoing change, loss, and discovery. Harper states “As many people have, I’ve been dealing with various types of fear and loss in my life lately, consequently I’ve been reflecting and viewing the world in a way that I hadn’t previously. This body of work, made primarily during lockdown, became much more introspective as our worlds grew smaller.
Through loss and grief, the search for meaning and the need for solace grew greater than ever. A profound need for physical and emotional connection, not just to one another, but also to the natural world, which became all the more significant.” The exhibition manifests as a reflection of the artists immediate environment, presented as if the stage of a play, inhabited with a cast of familiar characters that rotate around the outskirts of her childhood riverside home, where she has been isolating with her parents, sibling, and partner.
The characters are not portraits as such, more like actors that play a role, filling in for particular people on stage. This set reflects the psychological locations that she inhabits and those that inhabit her.
For Harper, making these paintings through a deeply personal lens became an opportunity to examine a period of rapid global change, acknowledging an individual and worldly capacity to live at the edge of the precipice. One which involves all of us dealing with the extreme challenges presented to us through the ensuing uncertain and unsettled. She references what Freud refers to as the ‘Death of Eros’ where the great undercurrents of human experience are hopelessly locked in a perpetual state of battle, with opposing forces constantly at play.
We all must attempt to steer our ship and avoid drowning in the complex dichotomous waters of freedom and constraint, strength and vulnerability, kindness and hate, constructive and destructive, dark and light and ultimately life and death. Attempting to not become overwhelmed, avoiding the deluge, as the tide rises.
In a prosaic sense the river became symbolic of the artists home, located at the water’s edge, but in a more profound sense, as the exhibition title alludes, it also carries wider and deeper references. We see rivers flow, clouds rain, and rainwater dissipate, nourishing and accommodating us and other objects, and on a more personal level we see tears fall and water slip through fingers.
The ritualistic nature of water helps to cleanse, heal, bless, and purify, and through this it connects us to ourselves, others, to life and to earth – it is a unifying element. Harper says “I’ve been thinking about our acts of effortless surrender to the natural cycles of the world. We are reminded that the water accommodates us, we are supported, we are not resisted, it sustains us, cleanses us and we are weightless to it.”
Much like in the ideas of the Tao in Chinese philosophy, the route of water explores alignment with the rhythms of the elements both within and outside the body. The ebb and flow of ‘The Rivers of Dwelling’ inspires immersion for both loosing and finding the self again as part of a greater whole. We become a part of the water as the water is a part of us, conjoining our inner and outer physical worlds in metaphysical unity. There is a surrendering to nature as an opening for wider thought and a deeper searching for connection.
The main protagonist of many of these paintings, has become a kind of guiding spirit of self, an avatar for the artist in a constant stream of uncertainty, as Harper says “she’s quite reliable and she turns up again and again when I need her, this reoccurring blond figure, the guiding spirit of me, is a reminder of the cycles of life, strength and rebirth: she is still very present and helps to carry the load.”