David Gatiss - 'Correspondence'
Wednesday 26 October - Saturday 12 November 2022
David Gatiss’ new body of work can be read as an echo from his past, it is not a mirror, nor is it saturated in nostalgia, but one that is derived from memory and shaped by the artist’s imagination. Into this evocation, Gatiss embroiders his father’s narrative and its affect upon his late mother. These stories centre on his father’s life aboard battleships as a Royal Navy torpedoman during the Second World War and later, as a coal miner. Discovering early family photographs and, unsettled by the apparent sadness betrayed in the eyes of his mother, the artist felt compelled to embark on, and complete the project that now manifests as Correspondence.
In making this work, David Gatiss has sought a poetic response to understand, not only his mother’s melancholy but also his origins in Belfast and the family’s eventual relocation, firstly to England then to Australia and the impact of immigration upon his mother. A key work in this exhibition is the triptych titled Letter to my mother. The surface of the outer panels is fashioned from countless layers of overlapping repetitive script both concealing and, in places, revealing. The recurring mantra evinced in these panels, fugue like, advances slowly towards a rhythm that arrives at a painterly abstraction. A solitary tree occupies the smoky landscape of the central panel. This is not some mythical wasteland but a site not only of remembrance but also of hope as seen through his mother’s eyes, a safe place now abandoned but never forgotten. In many ways this painting is a statement of gratitude and love.
(First two paragraphs of the exhibition essay written by Euan Heng)