Texts

castle Howard

Seeking the Domaine

Domaine is another portmanteau word for which it would be hard to find an English equivalent. Country Estate has inappropriate connotations. Demesne fits in some ways but it is a word not commonly in use.

To the characters in the story domaine would be an everyday word suggesting a fairly important private property attached to a manor house or chateau; at the same time it could have the broader, vaguer meaning usually associated with our use of the word domain.The author does in fact use it repeatedly with less precise, more poetical meaning in mind. With these qualifications a literal, if not exact, translation seems the best solution.’

Notes from the translator, taken from the novel Le Grandes Meulnes by Alain Fournier, 1913.

Photo 17

Photography Stephanie Harland

 

 

Extract from Dr. Matthew Bowman’s essay Diverse realisms; Different framings published  to accompany the exhibition of works by Jane Frederick, Nicholas Middleton and Michael Middleton

‘If the paintings by both Mike and Nicholas Middleton demonstrate a focus upon exteriority structured by their respective engagements with the outside world conditioned by its social, economic, and historical manifestations, then Jane Frederick’s works evince a withdrawal into the subjective, into interiority. Such a withdrawal, however, takes not the form of a refusal of the world but instead explores the internalization of the world through processes of experience and memory. And these processes, shown here on canvases that physically dwarf most of the other works exhibited here, are presented by Frederick not as personal expression as such. Rather she offers them as means for publicly testing and for making sense of experiences that might seem individuated. In other words, these paintings cannot be summed up by a statement like “these paintings are a pictorial expression of my experiences, my memories” because they actually appear to ask “do you have these experiences, these memories too? Do these images make sense to you?”

Of the three artists, Frederick is the most painterly, thereby generating a specifically painterly automatism (akin to Surrealism or Abstract Expressionism, where pictorial or painterly markings and lines come into existence as if of their own accord and seemingly represent unconscious thought processes)[i] rather than a photographic one. But this statement apropos Frederick’s painterliness demands to be qualified for her complex method originates from a photographic archive that she has amassed and organized over the years. These photographs are an admixture of documented locations visited in the last twenty years and photo-shoots with models carried out by herself. Some photographs are then selected, manipulated, colour-enhanced, and conjoined; then they are printed on non-absorbent paper. Because of the non-absorbency, the printed image quickly begins to run and distort, and whilst this happens Frederick photographs the successive stages of the picture’s disintegration. Next, the photographed models are layered upon the new photograph depicting the disintegration of the earlier picture. Finally, the new combo-image is reinterpreted upon canvas as a large painting (or sometimes as an etching). All this creates a complex, oscillating relation between painting and photography. Photography is the initial stage; then allowing the inks of the printed image to distort upon the non-absorbent surface is a process equivalent to painting; back to photography again, after that; and then painting is the conclusion. Somewhat like psychoanalytic/Surrealist automatism, this surrender to chance events of the painterly medium and juxtaposition of seeming randomly elements appears pledged to reconstructing a semi-latent memory had but forgotten or a memory not quite had but plausibly existent. To that degree, it builds upon the mnemonic function of archives and photographs. Because of the communal interpretative possibilities of Frederick’s paintings (“do you have these experiences, these memories too? Do these images make sense to you?”), the viewer is invited to assist Frederick in reconstructing or proving the actuality of her memory, and therefore enact the transition from semi-latent to manifest memory. And what motors our interpretation is the recurrence of figures and elements from painting to painting, effectively hinting an underpinning narrative uniting these paintings into a single memory sequence. Yet we don’t have access to Frederick’s memories—perhaps in the way these paintings depict memories that Frederick perhaps doesn’t quite have access to either—and thus there’s no way to test the validity of any narrative we construe, or of the truth-content of each photograph for that matter.’

 


[i] The distinction between automatisms is fleshed out and given new significance in Stanley Cavell, The World Viewed: Reflections on the Ontology of Film, enlarged edition (Cambridge, Massachusetts, and London, England: Harvard University Press, 1979 [1972]).