AboutHaving previously explored the literary cityscapes of Poe and Baudelaire through painting and animated films, Katherine Tulloh will show a new film and vibrant watercolours drawing on alchemical illustrations and the dream journals of Emanuel Swedenborg.
During a period living in London in 1744 Swedenborg underwent a spiritual crisis that transformed him from a respected natural scientist, engineer and inspector of mines for the Swedish government into a man who conversed with angels and analysed the structure of heaven. All the time attempting to preserve the intellectual rigour of his early training, he became convinced of the existence of an 'ultra-terrestrial' London - a place where spirits continued the lives they'd lived on earth. Like fragments projected on an inner screen, his writings have parallels with alchemical engravings, the secret hieroglyphs in which they hid their processes, sharing many of the same images and beliefs. Swedenborg's beautiful, enigmatic notes and dream diaries create a language which speaks to the eyes of the mind, elaborating a personal mythology composed of contemporary kings and courtiers, strange women in black, men on horseback, dogs, snakes, windows and chambers.
Exploring these two worlds of symbols, which both enclose a tension between scientific endeavour and mystical voyaging, Katherine creates a further realm of signs composed of glowing orbs of colour, snakes, lions, small birds, palaces, cities, vital organs and men and women reduced to spectral, capillary essences. The film was made in an extended reverie of improvisatory creation open to chance effects, she constructs and mutates sets and projections, photographing them and animating the resulting images into a fluid, hallucinatory stream, loosely soundtracked with excerpts from Swedenborg's writings and bursts of electro-acoustic sound. The paintings, on paper in vivid watercolour inks, are meticulous and luminous, and, together with the film, refuse meaning and celebrate the enigmatic resonance of the poetic sign.