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Blue Of Distance

Opening on Culture Night, 20th September

This exhibition of work by Dorota Borowa, Julie Forgue, Julian Forrest and Adam Fung borrows its title Blue Of Distance from Rebecca Solnit's book A field guide to getting lost.

Borowa, Forgues, Forrest, and Fung met in the small mining town of Longyearbyen, Svalbard, in the summer of 2023 days before boarding the tall sailing ship Antigua that would take them into the oceans surrounding one of the world’s northernmost inhabited archipelagos.

Alongside two dozen other international artists, they were taking part in that year’s summer solstice Arctic Circle residency. While onboard and on their many forays to shore, they worked with video, photography, drawing, and painting to gather, decipher, document, and reflect on the transformations that are occurring more rapidly there than anywhere else on earth. Since returning to their respective homes, Borowa, Forgues, Forrest, and Fung have been finding ways to connect and further the relationship that began in the Arctic. Though coming from different parts of the globe (Kerry (Ireland, by way of Poland), Texas (USA), Alberta and New Brunswick (Canada)), they share a common interest in creating work that addresses issues of fragility, decay, beauty, and change.

Dorota Borowa's work is grounded in a profound collaboration with nature, exemplified by her series At The Edge created during the Arctic Circle residency aboard the Antigua tall ship. The rhythmic sway of Arctic waters guided the movement of glacier water and watercolor on her papers, resulting in works that teetered on the edge of destruction, vulnerable to the slightest movement of the ship. This delicate dance between chaos and creation reflects the unpredictability inherent in her process. Dorota's recent body of work, 'Ideas come to us as the successor to griefs' (Marcel Proust's quote found in Deborah Levy's Cost of Living), marks her return to drawing after years of relinquishing her subjective mark. This journey of rediscovery culminated in an organic expansion of her collaboration with water through charcoal drawings onto gallery walls, embracing the eventual dissolution of her art as part of its temporary essence. Borowa's work invites viewers to explore the interconnectedness of nature and artistic expression, inviting contemplation and reflection.

Julie Forgue's work explores the subtle changes in the Arctic through images taken during her summer solstice expedition in the same artist residency program 7 years prior. With unfixed silver gelatin prints, that were re-exposed during the 2023 residency expedition to the Arctic’s 24 hours daylight in different parts of the southern and eastern coasts of Spitzbergen her work creates a comparison with what was, what is, therefore links to the what will be. By placing different physical elements of the natural surroundings like fauna, water, ice, etc. to alter the surface of the prints, this work explores the bigger picture of the changing weather patterns, warming waters, melting icesheets, etc. in Svalbard itself. This work therefore renders the importance of reflecting on our behaviors elsewhere in the world, that have direct impact on the smallest fundamental elements of the Arctic. These images are now physical ghostly icons of the past and present to examine our future stating that the slightest environmental impacts in/on the Arctic’s fragile system will come back to haunt us. Now is not the time to grieve; now is the time to change our actions so that we will never have to grieve.

Julian Forrest's work often centers on the physical and cultural shifts in landscapes caused by our drive for expansion and conquest. Previously that meant the west (Forrest lives in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada’s petrochemical epicentre) where inexorable shifts occur with the influx to oil-rich centres. More recently it has meant the far north, where the accelerating pace of environmental change evokes a sense of urgency. During his time in Svalbard, Norway, in 2023, Forrest documented scenes of abandoned whaling and hunting sites, wildlife, coal mines, cemeteries, and melting icebergs. His paintings and photographs reflect on themes of transformation and loss - whether human, animal, or mineral - exploring the intricate web of erosion, consumption, burial, and decay that defines the complex relationship between humans and the environment.

Adam Fung works primarily as a painter but following his 2023 Arctic Circle residency he created the large scale four-channel film installation, titled fathom, for the Arlington Museum of Art (Arlington, Texas, USA). Fathom pulls audiences into a hazy, dream like arctic landscape that is layered with landscape imagery, symbolic elements, and fades in and out of focus with a smoke like veil. The immersive rendering and presentation of the Arctic site asks viewers to consider their own emotions and understanding of the current climate crisis. Fung has often connected to polar sites, travelling to Antarctica in 2007 and the Arctic in 2016 and 2023. His work centers climate change as we experience it today. Fung employs the history of landscape painting, the sublime, and Romanticism as basis for his painting pursuits and asks us to acknowledge our interconnected existence with the physical environment. Fung’s paintings create an arena for viewers to examine how they interact with landscape as they oscillate between surrealism and realism. Recent paintings on copper substrates add an additional layer of considering our consumption and extraction of resources while depicting spaces that are created from photography and video collected on the Arctic Circle residency.


title exhibitions-upcoming