Walking in Two Worlds / Cerdded Mewn Dau Fyd
Venue: Volcano Theatre, 27-29 High Street, Swansea
Preview: Saturday 30th July 3-6pm
Open Tues – Sat 10am – 5pm
Exhibition continues until 27th August
“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 artists Steph Goodger and Julian Rowe as part of this year’s elysium gallery led Beep Painting
Biennial. 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
Jonathan Anderson, Keith Ashcroft, Helen Blake, Philippa Brown, 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, Julian Rowe, Dylan Williams, Richard
Williams, Jessica Woodrow