Newcastle Arts Centre: ‘Ichor’ Exhibition

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Our dependence on material possessions has caught us up in many an unfavourable situation. Inanimate objects and our relation with them has served to further the existence on mankind over centuries.

Sarah Daglish’s exhibition, titled ‘Ichor’ harks back to the first of mankind’s civilizations- Ancient Greece and how the narratives rooted within mythologies are still applicable in the modern age.
With a remarkable postmodern take on ancient Greek mythology, Daglish has managed to juxtapose the transience of mankind, with the permanence of the inanimate.

The theme of materiality forms the backbone of this evocative presentation. Materiality in this context, involves a change of form, shape and function. The installations present in the exhibit, unfurl the poetics of materiality, as the objects seem to possess the ability to convey symbolism and meaning. Moreover their representations as living elements, serves only to exemplify their role as material representations of human kind. While consisting of only five installations, Daglish’s work manages to evoke a range of emotions within the viewer, forcing the onlooker to consider the inanimate works of art of a conscious representation of life.

“Daglish’s work manages to evoke a range of emotions”

One particular work represents three stanzas from the Keats poem, ‘From Endymion’ imprinted on sheets of copper, exemplifying the aim of the author. The use of copper, as the artist explained, was to show the lack of control man has over even the most common metal. The story of Endymion, the Greek shepherd who fell in love with the moon is an emotion of fantasy and a longing for a reconnect with nature. Such poetic outpouring is starkly imprinted on the sheets of metal signifying both, the lack of control the man has towards the object of his affection, and the lack of control he has over a common copper.

‘Ichor’ or the ethereal fluid that is god’s blood, is the theme that ties all  works of art together. In one respect, Ichor represents the ultimate pursuit of man- immortality. On another, deeper level however, it’s unattainability reflects man’s ardent pursuit of the impossible. Described by the artist as being ‘lethally toxic to humans’ Ichor represents the instability of forms, liquids and materials, and their volatility in the hands of man.

“Ichor represents the ultimate pursuit of man – immortality.”

The central three installations tie the entire exhibit together, with the theme of ‘Ichor’ The first, a charred set of sticks, encased in a metal frame, representing the charred house of the Greek Goddess of Envy. The second, a simple metal trough of red liquid and the final, a set of charred sticks standing by themselves, but in a pool of leaking black liquid. With each piece lending itself to the other, the artist forces us to focus on the changing states of matter and the basic inherent features of substances.

Much like changing states of matter, man’s own unpredictability and potential to overspill, weaved within the narrative of Greek mythology, forces us to consider every little thing a living entity.

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