“The black and white images give the air of found footage from a Maya Deren investigation of local witchcraft. Sometimes the aesthetic echoes the self-conscious myth-making of Ana Mendieta or Joseph Beuys; at other times it has the resourceful DIY look of a Derek Jarman movie or community videos from the 1970’s…(The work presents) an alchemy that restores dignity and belonging.”
(Art Monthly review, Cherry Smyth)
“The artists record the performers in a series of actions and tableaux with dignity and beauty. They are consummate image-makers.”
(Caroline Douglas, Director of Contemporary Art Society, Friday dispatch)
“I was greatly impressed by BREADROCK at PEER. Fourthland and Fowler’s film and the sculptural installation are impressively original artworks in their own right. The 16mm film is much more than a document of an exceptional community project. It pays tribute to a place and its people with a poetic richness and texture that is utterly captivating and one of a kind.”
(Luisa Buck, contemporary art critic)
Crafting the Unknown by Skye Sherwin, in response to I Carry you in my eyes
Captured in flickering black and white 16mm film, images unspool across a triptych of screens. At times, what we see in the artist-duo Fourthland and artist-filmmaker Rosalind Fowler’s I Carry You In My Eyes, includes what might be sacred objects and fragments of rituals, recalling this early film stock’s use by anthropologists. Yet what it amounts to is a long way from documentary. Instead, it seems less an account, than a series of visions. There is nature: running water and snaking roots; scored rocks and tangled undergrowth. Which is which? Are we regarding a barnacled fist or a sprouting bone? At the bottom of a ceremonial path to the sea, a dark figure makes slow, purposeful gestures. Hands encircle air, as if caressing a head. Feet dance and bodies move in procession. Magically, in colour, a superimposed wand of swan’s feathers strokes the land. At various stages, the 16mm celluloid turns golden, as if transformed by alchemy.
Circles abound: bowls harnessing sunlight; the annual rings of a felled tree. In a repeating image, a disc has been cut in a thick fabric, across which water races. This doubles over two screens, making a pair of eyes. It’s a symbol with female overtones, a portal like the birth canal, which we have passed through, to a new, other world. But what is this place that we now find ourselves in? All is strange, and yet, there is something about those signs and gestures that we almost know, hovering on the tip of the tongue. Amid the sculptures and objects that surround this three-screen installation in the gallery, are two textile works, one blue, one red. Hanging, raggedy and wild, they resemble apparitions. Hand-stitched and naturally dyed, entwined with loofa and kelp, they might be the ceremonial robes of coastal shamans or priestesses passed through the ages. Small wonder that their creators describe them as “skins for dreaming”. Harnessed in the films, we are invited to enter an in-between space, the fluid, uncertain world of dreams.
[…] With these artists though, what we experience in the gallery is but a small part of their practice. Their exhibition Breadrock might be thought of as an echo or vibration, as they have put it, from a much longer process involving many voices and encounters. At Kestle Barton those they have worked with include the families of Syrian refugees housed in various locations around Cornwall, as well as Cornish locals, craftspeople and gallery visitors. Through a huge variety of workshops and performative actions, they have co-created stories and symbols that offer an alternative to the foundational myths that govern societies. As much attuned to individual experience as group customs, these new mythologies are alive to the needs of the present moment, with its challenges of cultural displacement and collision in a globalised world.
[…] To imagine our way inside the cultures we live alongside, to share a space of dreaming and craft new cohesive myths, in tune with the globalised reality, is one of our most urgent and challenging tasks. What’s striking about Fourthland and Fowler’s work at Kestle Barton are the ways in which they have embraced the awkwardness of first encounters and not knowing. The odd, beguiling images, sounds and objects shared between people who so recently were strangers to each other and the land, underline how uncertainty in cultural encounters might be a boon: that fertile state of mind where things are as yet unsettled, uncomfortable perhaps, but full of potential.