Painting Space Night Journeys

Lynne Boyd Visual Artist

Le monde est grand, mais en nous
il est profond comme la mer.

The world is large, but in us
it is deep as the sea.

— R.M. Rilke

If every being seems in itself round, as Gaston Bachelard suggests in ‘The Poetics Of Space,’ we can sense correlations between our corporeal human experience and the sphere of the earth. Our conception of self and the space we move through, seems to mirror our conception of space and the cosmos. So when we view satellite images of planets, comets or constellations in the night sky, our fascination resides not only in their otherness but also the reverse, their familiarity to us, as if such heavenly bodies could exist within our own.

Contemporary mapping of space globally with aerial photography and remote sensing enables us to view ourselves from above, in the liminal space of the earth’s upper atmosphere and beyond, where shadowy gleams and points of light imprint a palimsest of civilization below. Electronic light waves map the virtual world of cyberspace creating an immaterial dimension of space, establishing an ‘other’ space. In ‘The Selected Poems,’ Emily Dickinson writes of the subtle and shifting nature of space. ‘Let an instant push, or an atom press, or a circle hesitate.’ Space folds, reverberates, boundaries may dissolve.

For visual artist Felicity Spear navigating space is multi-faceted and prismatic; luminous colour, transparent light, geometric and spherical forms and patterns, the material and immaterial, interweave by means of installation and painting, light and sound, and various forms of photography and digital manipulation. The space of the gallery, or the site, becomes experiential and interactive as we navigate its charted dimensions aided by Spear’s meditative images.

In ‘Moments Of Being,’ Virginia Woolf speaks of her recurring idea, ‘that behind the cotton wool is hidden a pattern: that we – I mean all human beings – are connected with this; that we are all parts of the work of art.’ For Spear, multiple spatial patterns and forms are essentially connected through the body. The images and objects resulting from this interaction map the details of the journey thus far, whilst becoming metaphors for an unfolding view of the universe.

April 2004