It is as if the cumulative experience of travelling over many years to deserts, mountains and coastlines have been drawn together to form a locus around a time and space that is less culturally inflected (inscribed) and much more wildly elemental in its references to physical erasure, submersion and loss. The sense of discovery that still comes from exploring, walking or just ‘being’ in a place has also given rise to a feeling of reverie.
In particular the passage of days (marked out here with fugitive impressions on paper) spent by the tidal waters at Landermere in the interzonal territory of creeks and marshes on the East Anglian coast has developed into an extended reflection on dissolution and the return to wilderness (as witnessed also in the remote mountain tracts and extreme climates of Tibet and Mustang with their wind scoured walls and surfaces), a world that at one level appears cyclical and peaceful but at another is also fragile and endlessly mutating, where our tenuous hold on the material and historical record is constantly threatened and seemingly on the verge of destruction.
What has become more visible and urgent as a theme is connected, at least in part, to what the landscape writer Robert Macfarlane described in 2015 as ‘solastalgia’, a term he uses to encompass recent art that is, ‘unsurprisingly, obsessed with loss and disappearance’. ‘Solastalgia speaks of a modern uncanny, in which a familiar place is rendered unrecognisable by climate change or corporate action: the home becomes suddenly unhomely around its inhabitants’. We dwell in the knowledge – no less so in the Anthropocene – that everything returns to dust.
Luke Elwes February 2017