Saturday, 29 September 2012

Lion Hunting in Essex

On Sunday 26th August a couple's reported sighting of a large cat like creature in the fields surrounding St Ostyth near Clacton-on-Sea, Essex provoked a massive police response. Search teams including two helicopters with thermal imaging equipment scoured the countryside followed by a media circus.  A spokesperson stressed, the incident was not being treated as a hoax. Mr and Mrs Atkin who spotted the creature said "Whatever it was, it's definitely still out there."

Assisted by Mr Richard Brown, I embarked on a safari to seek out the resonance of this creature in the Essex landscape. We drove up to the area the day after the media circus; the search had been called off but the police still considered it a serious enquiry. There was barely any evidence of the previous day's events except a residual and palpable tension projected onto the terrain.

When we finally returned home, I found Richard Sawdon Smith (winner of the John Kobal Awards 1997) standing in my kitchen. We spoke about the presence of absence in landscape.

This project explores the experience of reality affected by circumstance, these landscapes were the same before the media reports of an escaped wild animal, they are imbued with the fear of the observer. it is an observation of the impossibility of reflecting reality and truth when we are consciously and unconsciously influenced. These ordinary landscapes were for a short period of time transformed into a dangerous Jungian jungle, observed through the filter of our most primal instincts of fight and flight.

Transposed into the gallery environment, away from the zone of perceived danger, the images become a record of the influences affecting an observer. This series is a further discussion on the nature of Pareidolia as it applies to how we view art as audience; the dichotomy between what is there and what we perceive to be there as unique and should not be assumed to be shared.

Update 10.08.2015

I went into the National Gallery in search of an unrelated reference for another project and came across Henri Rousseau's 'Surprised!' 1891 in Gallery 45. Whilst Rousseau gained knowledge of the jungle serving as a regimental bandsman in Mexico in the 1860s, this painting is thought to be inspired by visits to the Paris botanical gardens.

Image_4600, Lion Hunting in Essex © Richard Ansett 2012
Image_4528, Lion Hunting in Essex © Richard Ansett 2012

Image_4531, Lion Hunting in Essex © Richard Ansett 2012
Image_4496. Lion Hunting in Essex © Richard Ansett 2012

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