Exhibition of the work of Kendal Artist Ike Healey
May 6th to June 3rd 2018
open daily 10am to 5pm
For the last five years I have lived and worked on a Greek island.
Corfu, away from the tourist sites, is a lush expanse of olive groves, secret lakes, dark forests and unyielding mountains – a landscape where ancient gods and goddesses once walked, spreading fear and veneration in equal measure.
It is, therefore, a haunted island and any artist worth his or her salt must recognize the indefinable, ineluctable presence of these pagan forces.
Many of the paintings in this exhibition therefore have their origins in Greece and reflect, I hope, the veneration I have for ‘place’ – wherever it may be.
This takes many forms, including close study of indigenous plant forms, rock formations and specific landscapes.
Here, at the Merzbarn, similar concerns shape my thinking.
While the Lake District may not immediately summon up Greek landscapes, the close affinity one feels with nature is at work here too, not least in the drawings I plan to complete during this residency.
Schwitters used collage in fresh and original ways. We are all in his debt for although he may not have been the first (I suspect that Picasso and Georges Braque can make that claim) he refined and enriched this technique of abrupt and unexpected visual juxtapositions.
For me, Max Ernst too was a formidable influence, especially when I started as an artist, some fifty years ago.
Here, in this small exhibition, there are numerous examples of my own struggles with this genre. Although I avoided bus tickets and the like, the juxtaposition of images in my case may derive in part from my professional career as a stage and film director. Film is fundamentally a medium in which, in one twenty-fourth of a second, it is possible to change visual direction, creating dramatic contrasts and tensions.
Collage, at its best, does just that.
For an artist like me to share – if only for a week or so – the place where a great Modernist once worked is itself a thrill. We are lucky that he passed this way, pausing – before an untimely death in Kendal in 1948 – to spread his magic and imbrue the barn and the surrounding estate with some of his aura.
Kurt Schwitters may not be an ancient Greek god but here, at the Merzbarn, he is a living presence.