For Richard Ashrowan, searching for the meanings of a place, beyond appearances, is part of his common artistic practice, which helps him relate to the surrounding world. The choice of the subject is not accidental: he looks for the natural places which have remained unaltered (or altered only to a little extent) by civilization, places that preserve the pure force of a nature which has not been tamed yet.
In the Borderline project, the starting point is situated not so much in the unexplored Scottish location, as so far, but, on the contrary, in an area of political, social and cultural contact between England and Scotland, a territory with a special history.
The artistic journey, which is supposed to make the traveller familiar with the region and with a significant history, is in fact a research project on a series of perceptions triggered by the surrounding world. This set of successive, punctual “meetings” lead the artist to a knowledge and intimacy of the space which, growing more condensed, becomes time.
The relation between the artist and the place’s past – an old Roman wall, transformed into a border, a space of violent clashes and outlawed actions – is possible due to the perception of the topos per se, as it appears now, growing intimate with it after covering the distance on foot. The information and immediate impressions, materialized in photography, grow into a halo of subjective sensations surrounding these lieux de mémoir, triggering memories.
From the clash of the two images – the present one, received at a given moment, in a certain mood experienced by the artist, and the past one, rendered in period writings – stems a complex network of tensions between objectivity and subjectivity, a game played between the image as such and what it reflects as the subjective component of perception.
A testimony of this subjectivity of the artist’s vision is available in the series of photos which are no longer fragments of a place, but details, bits of images which attract his attention and process his manner of deconstructing the landscape. With these images, we grow aware not of the vastness and complexity of the space, but of the existence of microspaces : water, with a layered material density, rendered in changing colours, “slices of grass”, considered samples of landscape, a feather blowing in the wind. These microcosms are meant to raise our awareness of the frailty and relativity of this divided space, cut into fragments and delivered to us as “samples of view”.
Thus, the sequencing, the deconstruction of the landscape lead to a new unity, that of a space-time, both material and symbolic.
Lament: A Letter from the Anglo/Scots Borderline, by Richard Ashrowan is published by Nowhere Arts and available from ashrowan.com
Back to Lament.