‘Fragments of Infinity’ – Ione Parkin RWA
Abstract paintings, mixed media works and monoprints celebrating the raw elements of nature
(Published in the Bath Area Network for Artists Magazine, April, 2010)
by David Metcalfe
[Parkin’s] artistic preoccupation with the deep history of earth formation and organic evolution evokes a time before the existence of humankind.
For her primary sources Parkin draws on her own direct experience of varied environments. These include volcanic terrain, glaciers, cave interiors and exposed rock surfaces. She also uses secondary material, ranging from microscopic images of biological growth, through satellite macro-images of earth’s surface, to radio-telescopic images of deep space. These give her elemental, often extreme perspectives on natural processes of change, and on both the violent and subtle forces which drive them.
Crucial to Parkin’s own artistic process is the stage between her sensory experience of external stimuli and the act of creating an image. This phase of internal gestation allows impressions and feelings to germinate and ripen, unconsciously and in their own time, until brought forth in the act of artistic creation. In this, Parkin subscribes to Rilke’s view (Letters to a young poet) that “all progress must come from deep within and cannot be pressed or hurried by anything”.
She paints by working over the canvas on the floor in a tactile involvement with the painting medium. This echoes the way she sifts for pebbles or fossils on a beach, explores the texture of tree bark or foliage, or claws clay from the cliffs at Charmouth. Through cumulative working into and responding to what is forming, she allows the final image to emerge, deeply resonant of her contact with, and body memory of, the physicality of landscape components.
She creates visual interest through surface complexity and intense combination of colours, marks and textures, which keep the viewer’s eye and mind in motion. The works are not offered as simple one-off ‘sight-bites’. They bear and reward repeated visitation, contemplation, even meditation.
Roger Scruton (Beauty, OUP 2009) has opined that the pursuit of beauty is not popular among today’s visual artists. Central to Parkin’s work is the desire to create and to celebrate beauty – the beauty of the raw elements of nature, of the energy of growth within nature, of the fragility and mutability of matter in time and place. If, as Scruton has argued, beauty is about the creation of meaningful appearances, then Parkin’s abstract works are indeed viscerally beautiful artefacts, inspired by and evoking natural beauty. Fragments of canvas and paint, resin and pigment, paper and powdered metal, they are, in the artist’s own words, “freeze-framed in time and motion – uniquely specific but always eluding and defying absolute definition”.
David Metcalfe is a writer, storyteller and narrative consultant. He is co-author of ‘An Ecobardic Manifesto’ by Fire Springs (Awen 2008).