In this exhibition, the artists Tai Shan Schierenberg and Lynn Dennison explore the ways in which landscape resonates for them, crystallising their responses to nature and place in a series of works that translate their lyric meditations into a lucid visual language.
For Schierenberg, there is an ‘emotional charge’ that comes from the different textures and densities, and ultimately the light conditions, that occur in a place at a certain time.
I paint landscapes, and why I respond to certain landscapes over others is a mystery to me. I love a beautiful sunset, a freshly snow hushed forest or a misty English dawn like the next cliché addict but what is it that gets under our skins so successfully? Are our choices defined by some unspoken cultural or personal or abstract code and do we not respond to other landscapes because we have no previous inoculation, aesthetic or intellectual, to them? Could it be as M.Ignatieff states in response to Schama’s book “Landscape and Memory”, “that there is no unmediated perception of nature - that landscape is memory”?
In these latest paintings I have been exploring the different qualities I feel drawn to in landscapes; from the physical mass of a wall of sea water or an overgrown tree, to the bittersweet memories evoked by childhood topography. Or the effect of nostalgia, personal and
cultural on my choice of landscapes. And the more I explore this path and paint, the more I see that the statement that “landscapes become not simply what we see, but a way of seeing” (K. Taylor 2008) might be true.
Tai Shan Schierenberg, 2012
Born in England in 1962, Tai-Shan Schierenberg lives and works in London. He graduated from the Slade School of Art in 1987. In 1989 he won first prize in the National Portrait Gallery’s John Player Portrait Award, and as part of the prize, was commissioned to paint playwright Sir John Mortimer for the Gallery’s collection. The National Portrait Gallery also holds his portraits of Lord Carrington from 1994, Lord Sainsbury 2002 and most recently Seamus Heaney from 2004. Other noted commissions include Professor Stephen Hawking, Sir John Madejski and a double portrait of Queen Elizabeth II and the Duke of Edinburgh. Schierenberg has exhibited widely throughout the United States, United Kingdom and Europe. He is represented in public collections including the National Portrait Gallery, London; Tate Gallery, London; and the BBC.
Currently studying for her masters at Byam Shaw, Lynn Dennison’s artistic practice has begun to incorporate her sculpture with a further exploration in film. Psychogeography will feature two of Dennison’s most recent installations. Cascading snow falls across ghostly translucent dresses, whilst a gently breaking shoreline runs a cross a bare interior.
The landscapes we grow up with, as well as those that we are familiar with on a daily basis, enmesh with our experiences and become part of the fabric of stories which grow up around our family memories and tradition. In my work I have been trying to show how the landscape we inhabit becomes a part of us, as well as trying to give a feeling of what it is like to be in these landscapes. I am trying to create a feeling of being consumed by the landscape. Hilary Mantel writes, “What happens to us in the depths of the wood? …Lost in the extinguishing darkness, we cannot see our hand before our face. We lose all sense of our bodies boundaries. We melt into the trees, into the bark and the sap.” I have recently been using my sculptures in more installation based work incorporating film and video in an attempt to evoke place and memory. I am interested in how we use landscape to convey feelings of internal conflict, a place to try to resolve issues, or a return to the innocence and simplicity of childhood. The idea of the romanticism of our childhoods and the places associated with them is an enduring one for me. As Tonino Guerra describes it, ‘Nostalgia for a world that is disappearing, for a world which each of us occasionally thinks used to exist or could exist. Nostalgia for a life which we do not have and which perhaps we never had.’
Lynn Dennison, 2012