UnEarthed: Eleanor Lakelin Solo Exhibition
‘I have always been interested in the rhythm of growth in relation to time; how material is built up and worn down by natural elements: eroding, decaying and fragmenting. How matter itself then holds this rhythm in its structure and in turn how we hold that fragment and feel this narrative, this history through our human touch. We hold time in our hands and are instantly connected to a deeper sense of wonder; the infinity of nature, the universe in relation to our own human lifespan – we glimpse at our mortality, where we are in life and where we would like to be.’ Eleanor Lakelin
Eleanor’s new series of monumental sculptural columns embody a profound soulfulness in relation to time and nature; these towering edifices stand proud and poised in a crowded corner of the artist’s busy studio in Deptford. Eleanor whips around in a cloud of frenzied activity, stepping agilely from one piece to the next; all are in varied states of completion, chaotic perhaps, yet there is a clear and focused vision that runs through this dynamic body of work, in anticipation of her first solo exhibition in London.
The pieces emerging from the artist’s trove retain remnants of the classic vessel form that has always inspired her. Indeed, there is something humbling about this basic utilitarian tool that has dutifully served humanity for thousands of years; it is embedded in our collective memory and we feel ever-drawn to its ancient shape. Eleanor’s works hold a similar mysticism and ethereal space, however a new narrative is immediately apparent through the monumentality and sheer ambition of their vertical forms. It is not just their scale that leaves us spellbound but the artist’s intense creative engagement with the material through intricate surface carving and treatment, as the wood is bleached white like ossified matter or scorched in a process symbolising metamorphosis.
Interestingly, Eleanor has titled the exhibition UnEarthed; certainly, the surface qualities of the work symbolically reveal hidden terrains, eroded and undulating passageways that reflect on ancient cultures and archaeological relics, fragments of time past. In this way, they engage in a dialogue that traverses time, space, culture and materials. While tying us to the past they simultaneously reflect on our future relationship to the natural world; these fleshy surfaces and exposed nodules of anarchic burr engage us in the complexities and resilience of nature, while also visualising its fragility in the face of human consumption. The artist reminds us that renewal is not inevitable and ecological survival remains uncertain. Nevertheless, these sculptures stand resolutely like columns in ancient ruins and speak of persistence and longevity. Their solemn stance returns our minds to the original tree that stood as a silent sentinel and bore witness to the passing epochs around it.
The anatomical expression of the burr, which is caused by an external affliction, also represents a glorious act of self-healing. By revealing this phenomena through her sculpting process, Eleanor’s pieces are ones of hope and spirit. In them, we see Eleanor asking more of herself as an artist and more of humanity, as stewards of the natural world.