Janeanne Gilchrist – 2018 Fergusson Arts Award Winner
Photographer and winner of the 2018 JD Fergusson Arts Award, Janeanne Gilchrist presents a solo show of her latest work.
The sea and the self: these are territories Janeanne Gilchrist explores and merges seductively in this exhibition of intricately composed and infinitely ambiguous sub-aquatic images. Hers is a submerged world of spectral floating objects and mysterious seascapes, each seeking meaning and calling on us to find our own.
Free diving off the unpredictable coasts of Scotland, one breath at a time, Janeanne’s physical and creative element is sea water.
She forages for objects in the depths – a tangle of fishing net, a singed seaman’s sou’wester, discarded fish gut, a decomposing plastic bag – the thoughtlessly discarded cast-offs of fishermen, of man. She searches out subjects – the spawning seaweed, the mesmerizing alien glow of a jellyfish, the stone-washed bones of a migratory bird.
Then she plunges deep again, clasping her finds in search of the moment. Temperature, tide, time of year, weather, lunar cycles the unpredictable moods of the sea combine to create the elusive shape, the temporary touch, the momentary light, that will create the sea- change she desires.
We hold our breath with her. We feel the call of her sea and slip under the surface with her flotsam and jetsam. We seem suspended above her seascapes.
We also feel the fear. Overcome, and yet present in every image.
We sense the creature that lies beneath. A tangle of seaweed tugs us down, fibrous and fecund. We wince at the imminent jellied sting. Our skin chills as it imagines the brush of a drowned soul.
Janeanne’s sea beckons, seduces and threatens.
Shot alone out in the sea in the period after her mother’s death, the photographs in Above, Below, Beyond are also infused with submerged grief and evasive, finely textured feeling: the ghostly vulnerability of objects and clothing, carrying the disintegrating memories of their former purpose; the almost Autumnal, mournfully painterly seascapes; once-alive creatures in delicate tangled attachment.
We cannot help but look for meaning and stories in these moving, otherworldly images as we sink into their deceptive stillness.