Virginia MacKenny: Strand/Shore
Barnard is pleased to present Strand/Shore, a solo exhibition by Virginia MacKenny.
Strand/Shore was generated in and between two coastal towns – Cape Town in South Africa and Swakopmund in Namibia. Comprising watercolours (produced in the limited space offered by COVID’s Lockdown and travel), oil painting and an illustrated children’s book for adults (or an adult book for children), the exhibition engages the conversations of distance and proximity, alienation and intimacy, and breakdown and resilience that the pandemic and our global environmental crisis has provoked.
Strand/Shore marks a liminal and uncertain space — a sensory threshold between land and water; a shifting edge, uncertainty. Beyond the implications of a geographical shoreline, the words ‘strand’ and ‘shore’ are verbs. To strand is to beach or run aground, while to ‘shore up’ is to bolster or prop up something in danger of collapse. These ideas conjoin on Namibia’s Skeleton Coast — a notoriously dangerous and inhospitable coastline where death and loss are marked everywhere in the remains of animals, plants and ships. At the end of a seven-year drought within this terrain, however, there are also extraordinary indicators of endurance, tenacity and adaptations for survival.
Often reduced to the most elemental of materials the land is dominated by rocks and sand — the building blocks of most forms of life when rendered down to soil. This exhibition of ‘landscape’ painting engages both internal and external geographies where the boundary between what is considered outside of us and that which constitutes us is seen as in conversation. Aware of Feminist theoretical physicist Karen Barad’s ideas of complex intra-active relationality that posits a world always in the making, the work explores understandings of matter which narrow the divide between land/earth and human in a manner that is historically relational in two countries still haunted by the ghosts of colonisation.
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