Garton, M. & Heald, K. (2014) Suspended Narratives. Salford, University of Salford.
"This book is an open gesture; evidence of an ongoing experiment agreed by two artists who seek to understand the elements that bridge their practices. Maria and Karen share intellectual and political space and feel a strong sense of compatibility in the way that they experience the world but their art and their making processes explore differing means and exploit distinct methods. They have chosen to conduct their conversation through their art practices, by juxtaposing records and documents that represent recent works and by co-locating their images throughout the pages of a single book or, possibly, a sequence of volumes of which this is the first.
The composition of this collection has evolved from an ebb and flow, an exchange of ideas in flux that has played out over time. The core purpose is to expose complimentary perceptions and sensitivities. The two independent artists have developed a co-dependency simply by exercising faith in their instinctive affinities. The process began as a speculative collaboration, each pooling their individual memories stored in the recorded histories of completed works; photographic annotation taken from larger or durational artworks. This is a process of making and co-creating leading to something new, the book, but it is a process that demands reflection, directly referencing the elements of each artist’s discrete identity that they have found to reside in their art. Orchestrating, reviewing, sorting, editing, revising and composing are the iterative interactions that have supported their correspondence. These procedures have rested on and promoted rhythm, harmony and collusion; synergising qualities that reach beyond the surface veneer of the photographs as visual representation. This book is an exclusively pictorial essay and presents reflective and reflexive details, or vague options, that map an exchange of views and an exchange of view. Each artwork is the consequence of purposeful and planned making strategies; a set of conscious decisions that depend on the motives and intentions of the maker. These devices are what initially frame perceptions and judgements of a relationship between the artists. But is the nuanced connections or the more evasive and happen-chance coincidences, leading to the discovery of shared terrain, that have inspired Karen and Maria to explore their relationship in this way. Instinctive aesthetic decisions, regularised habits of making and automatic sensorial gestures betray the personalities that engineered the appearance of things in each artwork, deepening and personalising the qualities of both matter and form. The process of compiling this book has been evolutionary and painstaking in that the pair has determined to sense new discoveries and look beyond the obvious. This collaborative action has inspired a deepening friendship; it has been a means by which shared intellectual, political and emotional understandings have matured through an ever more dependable mutual trust.
I recognise the painters gaze in the habits of each artist. The picture and the picture plane contain an expanded field of colours, hues, tones and textures that conspire with forms to frame and illusion. Neither artist limits their means to a single medium or set of disciplinary conventions. Each imagined narrative is a personalised response to a vista; a situational performance held within a time-space. The narrative is regularly adopted as a dimension responsible for describing form or mass; equal in importance to height, width or depth. The stories to be found in the artworks remain exotic; just the same as the locations selected to stage and frame the works. These artists make use of narrative to evoke fantasy and a realm that primes and extols new and even undiscovered virtues in the image scenery. They are incomplete in that they are not closed or finished; rather, the ending is obscured as the image liberates the imagination to go further and envisage a continuing odyssey. Each artist presents narrative as a form that is in transit or transformation, it becomes a fragment of another reality, a poetic allusion that warps and fractures fixed or static time. As such, the narrative is preserved in the moment as a multi-dimensional and provocative influence that maintains ambiguous relations between the material forms and gestures of each work. These artists present fragile realities, physical presence excited by an uneasy relationship with the context or theatre that surrounds it and provides its site.
Their reaction to the world is explicit in each of their recorded or stilled actions as the use site to frame their expression and interpret (or re-interpret) their recurrent themes. These are not didactic pieces, they rather lean towards poetic association and inference and, on these grounds, reference the romantic. The vibrant and exhuberant colour of Garton’s pallete seduces the senses and feeds the soul with richly intense echoes; both symmetry and discord that fascinates the rhythm of patterns across the painted surface. The complexity of colour is further saturated by luxuriant textures, radiant lustres and chromatic verve; open and honest jouissance. Though there is the appearance of a contrast with the organisation of colour and tone in Heald’s compositions it is the same sources of form that nourish the emotional satisfaction of her images and illuminate the sensuousness of experiences represented through their performance. Heald’s hues are delicately graduated around a limited chromatic scale; an infused and harmonising compliment of colour calibrated with ambient tones. They temper and hypnotise the senses and transfix our attentions on the possibilities of what may lay beyond our experience of the real and tangible. What we witness in both artists is the eloquence of the painter mediating images of the world and of actual situations, environments and experiences to transcend expectations, access the surreal and liberate sensuality so that it may engage the intellect. They each make use of universal aesthetic experiences to divine depictions of our inner-selves, tenuously visible at the edges of recognisable normality. They have choreographed the full range of their pictorial elements into a performative dynamic and thereby extracted an alter-reality that, nonetheless, relates to a place and to a time that we can share. These are familiar locations and even familiar scenarios that appeal to our collective memory. From here we can draw associations and consider our own perspective. The poetry and the essence of suspended narratives outlined in each work partially depend on our own imagined recollections and interpretation of these vistas. These are cerebral landscapes upon which colour and coloured forms have been layered to create or imply ephemeral visions that act as mirrors to the soul and to the theatre of desire."
Professor Paul Haywood
I would like to express my thanks to my collaborators: Maria Garton, Chris Bird-Jones, Elizia Volkmann, Susan Liggett, Caroline Sabin, Daisy Farris and Takeko Akamatsu. Maria and I would also like to thank Professor Paul Haywood for the wonderful discussions and ensuring that this publication came to fruition.