In this solo exhibition of photographs and mixed media works on paper, Carrie Foulkes explores notions of defence, taking inspiration from three sites: the sea, the desert and the garden. The show brings together new and older pieces that represent the artist’s abiding interest in the meeting places of bodies, architecture and the living world.
Reflecting on the myriad ways in which plants protect themselves, Defence Mechanisms presents portraits of Mexican cactus, Suffolk foxglove and Spanish desert thistle. These are viewed in dialogue with a picture of a coastal nuclear power station’s cooling apparatus. Beach pebbles are gathered in the arms of a figure that merges with the shoreline. Anonymous hotel room interiors become symbols of contemplation and refuge.
Working with analogue photography, drawing, painting and collage, the artist considers the interconnectivity of internal and external structures, viewing the image as a conduit between the material and intangible, conscious and unconscious spheres. Her work with paper echoes the barbs and bright toxicity of flora.
Autobiographical strands are woven throughout the exhibition, positing the making of images as a strategy of self-defence and method of survival.
On the autumn equinox, 23rd September, the artist hosted a Live Night with literary contributions from invited guests, the creative community being another vital source of sanctuary and support. The event featured poetry and readings by JD Howse, Zelda Solomon, Mischa Foster Poole, Nadira Clare Wallace, Jennifer Lucy Allan and a performance by Carrie Foulkes with improvised musical accompaniment by Lucy Tasker. The performance, Sunflower Hospice, was conceived as a funeral celebration for the summertime. The audience participated in a procession and ritual burial of four sunflowers tended by the artist from seedlings to old age over the previous months.
Unholy battered old thing you were, my sunflower O my soul, I loved you then! Allen Ginsberg, Sunflower Sutra