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Skypark, 2020

August 2020
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Skypark, 2020. Hand painted woodcut, c. 6’ x 3’6” I have been making sky pictures since March. Perhaps the relative quiet of lockdown, working in a shed in a field of long grass & listening to late 19th century music, has all led me to pitch fears of what’s going on against the wonderment of the natural world at a time when life has been quieter, slower, more reflective. This image was inspired by Hubble’s deep space photographs and me imagining all these constellations spreading out into the universe and I hope at the same time, like the surface of a pool, reflecting the primordial soup of our DNA and the roots of where we come from. John Berger’s essay on Nicholas de Staël makes far better and more prescient connections between images of skies acting as metaphors of the angst of the time. . “De Staël’s struggle with sky was heroic. Skies change not only from hour to hour, and from season to season, but also from century to century. They change according to weather, and according to history. And this is because the sky is like a window and a mirror, a window onto the rest of the universe, and a mirror to the earthly events taking place below it. El Greco’s skies reflect the conspiracies of the Counter-Reformation and the Spanish Inquisition, as much as Turner’s reflect the turmoil of the Industrial Revolution. Nobody looks up at a real sky for more than a minute without making a wish related to some current fear or hope. … today- perhaps because we are living amongst the havoc being wrought by the new global and corporate tyranny- it’s clear that these paintings and drawings are about human survival, about continuing to live, with extraordinary stamina and a few slivers of hope, in the craters and hecatombs. What does this continuing to live imply? It implies adapting, learning new spatial habits, believing that lying low can be an act of resistance, discovering what is still friendly in the surrounding desolation and cherishing it… Nicholas de Staël was a painter who never stopped searching for the sky. Today he encourages us who are in the circle, the ever renewable circle, of those struggling to find a way out of the present darkness". #johnberger

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