Slow Blink

31 May 2024 – 6 Jul 2024

Regular hours

11:00 – 18:00
11:00 – 18:00
11:00 – 18:00
11:00 – 18:00
11:00 – 18:00
11:00 – 18:00

Free admission

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Travel Information

  • 500 metres from London Bridge Undeground Station
  • 500 metres from London Bridge Train Station
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In a series of vividly coloured, otherworldly spaces we encounter a woman and her cat, the boundaries between their bodies blurred to evoke states of transformation and interconnectedness.


In a series of vividly coloured, otherworldly spaces we encounter a woman and her cat, the boundaries between their bodies blurred to evoke states of transformation and interconnectedness. Slow Blink, Amy Beager’s latest solo exhibition at Kristin Hjellegjerde Gallery, was made in a period of grief, following the loss of her cat Ashitaka. Drawing on personal memories and fluctuating emotions, these tender paintings trace their relationship and Beager’s experience of mourning while also exploring our wider connection to nature and the spiritual realm.

While Beager’s compositions often refer to motifs from art history or specific mythological narratives, the colours, lines and textures develop through the painting process to conjure a dream-like world that is all her own. In this latest series, memories of Ashitaka playing and basking in the sunlight merge with references to famous cats from Hollywood films as well as paintings by the likes of Leonardo da Vinci and Dante Gabriel Rossetti.


My Beating Heart Sleeps, for instance, was inspired by the opening scene of the film Breakfast at Tiffany’s and the homeless cat Orangey who the lead character Holly, played by Audrey Hepburn, describes as ‘a poor slob with no name’. In Beager’s reimagining her own memories of Ashitaka transform the cat into not just a watchful companion, but an extension of the figure herself. A shared colour palette of warm pink and red with touches of luminescent green runs between the cat and the sleeping woman, evoking a deep, emotional connection. The creature’s translucency meanwhile gives it an other-worldly presence that we also see in Quiet Rage. In this painting, the cat is again keeping watch, perched on the neck of a supine figure whose blank gaze is unnervingly trance-like. Is she bewitched by the cat – a fearsome magical creature who bears its teeth and radiates light? Or is it a manifestation of her spirit, a guardian of the underworld?

This slippage between reality and the imagination or subconscious is characteristic of Beager’s work and connects her paintings with the Romantic tradition as well as with the Pre-Raphaelites. Growing Wings, for example, references Dante Gabriel Rosetti’s painting Beata Beatrix from c.1864–70. The painting depicts Beatrice Portinari from Dante Alighieri’s 1294 poem La Vita Nuova at the moment of her death. In Beager’s work the figure retains her saint-like status, bathed in a wide halo of light, but it is not only her that is transitioning to the afterlife: a cat lies on her lap, its head raised in a pose that mimics that of the figure. While the painting conveys a sense of serenity and stoicism, it is also a complex depiction of grief. Both the figure and cat are radiant beings, but also untouchable, already lost to the spirit world. For Beager, it illustrates the ways in which she has had to come to terms with the loss of Ashitaka (Japanese for ‘brighter tomorrow’) while also attempting to hold on to ‘his fullness’ and to honour his memory.

In A Heart’s a Heavy Burden, one of the show’s most emotive works,the cat’s presence is barely visible behind a burst of red paint in the figure’s left hand. In the other hand, she clutches a severed heart dripping blood. Here again, deep shades of red and pink are representative of both warmth and tenderness, but also violence and rage while brighter areas of yellow evoke a glimmering sense of hope that is connected with the spirit world, but also with the act of painting.

For Beager, as for many artists throughout history, making art is a form of healing and making sense. While these works make her pain visible, they also transform it by giving shape to her emotional experience and memories. This is what we encounter in the shifting forms, fervent swirl of colours, rich textures and sweeping brushstrokes: a world being made again.

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Amy Beager


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