‘They are playing games. They are playing at not
playing a game. If I show them I see they are, I
shall break the rules and they will punish me.
I must play their game, of not seeing I see the game.’
R.D. Laing, Knots, April 1969
'The real secret of magic is that the world is made of words, and that if you know the words that the world is made of you can make of it whatever you wish.’
Terry McKenna, Alien Dreamtime, a multimedia event recorded live, 27 February 1993
The series of work for Chapter Two begins as a book of protective spells or science fiction hieroglyphics: a cocktail plundering the Egyptian Book of the Dead, Flann O’Brian, Terry McKenna, Swedenbourg and 1001 Nights.
These large drawings explore the rhythm and tension of a diptych or double page spread, they are ‘conversations’ between two characters; power struggles between the vessel who takes on the role of his maker [Leach lech], the interrogator who had his brains sucked out [brown stirabout], the disembodied judge [natural puff].
There is a distinct emotional and technical precision to all of Oona Grimes’ work that gives it its idiosyncratic and fascinating lure. You’re lured inspite of yourself, inspite of not knowing what the shady characters and disjointed hieroglyphics represent, nor exactly how the jagged lines have been manufactured without any digital input whatsoever. Surely to create trust in a distrustful world is some of what Grimes succeeds in doing.
Oona Grimes was educated at Norwich School of Art and the Slade School of Fine Art UCL. She is a compulsive drawer and story-teller. Working with books and multiples, etching and mixed media, she embraces redundant print processes; salvaging and recycling discarded and obsolete materials. Narratives gleaned from such diverse lives as William Bligh, Mary Bell, John Dee and Fred West are mapped and served up as cocktail-shaken distillations of individual and collective memory.
Selected recent exhibitions include against Nature, Camberwell space (2014); When is Now, Five years (2014); Glass Cat, Wimbledon Space (2014).
The artist has regularly collaborated with Iain Sinclair: Bricolage, Southbank Centre’s Festival of Britain (2011); Rose-Red Empire, Danielle Arnaud Gallery (2011); Postcards from the 7th Floor (2010).
She is currently visiting lecturer at the Royal College of Art, London and the Ruskin School of Fine Art, Oxford University.
SLAM Last Fridays – Friday 28 November at 7pm as part of South London Art Map’s Last Fridays, Oona Grimes will discuss her work with Margy Kinmonth, Film and Television Director.