As if peering through a gap in the trees this art work focuses on the relationship between light and dark, quarry and hunter. The colour and form of the red figure references Uccello’s practice within the late Gothic tradition and reminds us that red is the colour of fairytales, representing blood (virginity, violence, death).
Gallery of Quarry details, exhibition installation and studio documentation
The story behind Quarry
Paolo di Dono, called Uccello (1397–1475):
The Hunt in the Forest (c.1465-1470)
tempera and oil, with traces of gold, on panel; 177cm x 73.3cm
The Hunt in the Forest is held in the collections of the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford.
Like Uccello, I painted a black ground over white gesso to create a rich, infinite space. Uccello’s foliage was painted in from dark colours to light whereas he worked the figures, animals and tree trunks from white silhouettes, resulting in a vibrant tableau.
The covered complexity of his forest reminds me of the fan-canopied ceilings of mosques and cathedrals so I site my strange protagonists in an immense echoing chamber, interrupted by ‘void’ forms created through the process of cutting and making other shapes. The bird-like creature is the artist of The Hunt in the Forest, Paolo di Dono himself (known by his nickname, Uccello, which means ‘bird’, given to him because of his unique depictions of the natural world).
The river in Uccello’s forest appears in Quarry on the right, suggesting that we are are still somewhere dripping wet, but now we are underground, beneath the roots of Uccello’s verdant, fertile dream. Whether the sightless creatures hopping, slinking and darting back into the shadows are the hunters or their prey, I leave to your own interpretation.
Quarry was first shown in the exhibition Quarry at the Brocket Gallery, London in 2016.
More works from Quarry
The relics and ghosts of long ago are brought together here as if in a wild dream of nature. Starting from the verticals of Uccello’s trees and dotted lines he cut into the wood I wanted to present a landscape of fragments that offers a framework for a narrative.
The dogs in south London are running. One of the big ones slows down as it passes me and I step back as its nose swerves into my crotch, waving my arms as though that would make any difference. If it were really hungry it would just eat me but I get a face full of hot meaty air and it’s a lucky day.
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They all saw her. Standing on the boardwalk outside the old woman’s house, smoking.
The old woman was dying of cancer. Not from cigarettes, but still. They did not approve.
In the house, the old woman frantically peeled potatoes, scraps of skin flying everywhere, sticking to the sink, windows and her woollen clothing like a plague of starchy warts.