Cerdded Mewn Dau Fyd / Walking in Two Worlds
This exhibition is split into two parts.
Oriel Carn, Caernarfon: 2nd Oct – 14th Nov 2021
Oceans Apart, Salford, Manchester: 9th Oct – 7th Nov 2021
Jonathan Anderson | Helen Blake | Philippa Brown | Philip Cheater | Lara Davies | Lucy Donald | Tom Down | Mark Folds | Amy Goldring | Steph Goodger | Gareth Griffith | Paul Hughes | Tim Kelly | Hetty Van Kooten | Enzo Marra | James Moore | Sarah Poland | Jonathan Powell | Dylan Williams | Richard Williams | Jessica Woodrow
“Man is a creature who walks in two worlds and traces upon the walls of his cave the wonders and the nightmare experiences of his spiritual pilgrimage” – Morris West
Walking in Two Worlds is a group exhibition curated by Welsh painter Jonathan Powell and devised by Steph Goodger and Julian Rowe. It brings together a group of artists who share interests in prehistoric art, the primitive, the shamanistic and the mysterious.
This vision of painted artefacts littering a gallery space is a latter-day reflection on the thrill of encountering a painted cave for the first time, where long-forgotten animals leap out of the flickering shadows. Perhaps for a moment the gallery can become the cave.
The focus of the show is the work of the neglected Dutch French primitive painter Hetty van Kooten (1908-1958), some of whose paintings are included in the exhibition, together with a small display of texts, images and memorabilia concerning her life and work.
Van Kooten spent her working life in France and as a young woman she assisted in documenting the newly discovered prehistoric paintings at the Pech Merle cave in the Lot region of France. It was whilst working underground that she claimed to be receiving inspiration, and even direct instructions, from a higher, mystical, plane, channelling the same energies from the caves that had possessed the prehistoric shamans who had preceded her. Through painting, Van Kooten discovered a physical expression of these energies.
There is something intriguing and seductive about the prehistoric cave sites that preoccupied Van Kooten. Most of the art was created at a time when we humans were not at the top of the food chain. Our connection to the landscape and the surrounding environment helped keep us alive and fed into storytelling and rituals lost to time. We can now only try and pick at the few scraps we have and guess at the mind sets of our long-ago forebears.
The artists in this exhibition offer manifold approaches to their painting practices as they prod and probe, scratch away and paint, looking for meaning in a world far removed from our prehistoric ancestors.
Image – Hetty Van Kooten