This Muddy Eden
Hannah Brown & Christopher Orr
Taking its title from a line in a book on Victorian Utopias, This Muddy Eden brings together two ostensibly figurative artists, Hannah Brown and Christopher Orr, who both draw from andplay with conventions of art history. To the casual eye, both artist’s work could appear wholly conventional, dark figurative landscapes that wouldn’t look out of place hung next to a John Constable or J.M.W. Turner. Viewers that invest a little more time, however, will find something more perplexing and unusual in the works.
Christopher Orr’s small paintings of ethereal landscapes, often populated by figures, draw stylistic influence from the likes of Turner and Casper David Friedrich yet seek to blur the distinction between reality and illusion. Images in Orr’s work are regularly taken from old books or magazines from the 1950’s and 60’s. Pages from the National Geographic are positioned next to children's illustrations and frequently retain their actual size, creating extraordinary, surreal juxtapositions and an abandonment of scale all suggesting a meaning that could lie beyond the experience of the viewer, or allow them to create their own narrative. Orr explores our need to analyse and interpret images by using loaded and specifically nostalgic motifs, yet offers us no conclusion.
Hannah Brown’s canvases also appear embedded in the the legacy of traditional English landscape painting yet, here again, there is a twist. These are not the grand vistas one might expect to see in landscapes of this size but rather quiet, forgotten corners of parkland in London or Devon. Nor are they literal depictions as Brown will add and remove elements to ensure no obvious signs of human life remain. This absence of humanity creates a foreboding silence for the viewer. Brown’s sculptural work will shift your interpretations further from the traditional whilst still toying with its conventions. Made to appear ceramic, these organically shaped abstract works also incorporate elements such as liberty print or curtain tassels and, especially when coupled with her canvases, they comment on our desire to bring the illusion of nature into our homes.
27th February - 26th April
2 The Arcade
Letchworth Garden City