Many people when confronted with Sophie Benson's images will compare them with daguerreotypes, those early 19th century photographs which, even when developed, seem as provisional as condensation on a window pane. Images almost suspended in time appear as floating particles of pigment and as frozen relics of a world that is disappearing. Time suspended, time recovered and an elegiac sense of transience are central to her work.
While working as artist in residence at Harewood House several years ago, she discovered a box of old photographs of the house and the grounds. These permitted a glimpse into another world of the past or indeed alternative worlds of the mundane and the glamorous. The possibility of retrieving frozen moments of other lives and landscapes and then holding them in suspended animation in a painting is crucial to her intentions. She makes her paintings by first projecting slides of photographs on to coloured paper and then draws out the image's structure. Then she applies washes of water-bound pigment, finally sealing the image with a layer of pigment mixed with acrylic medium. The image is therefore presented in suspension, a floating relic of a scene that no longer exists.
The current exhibition contains paintings spanning the last five years and includes the Floating Island Series. These studies of icebergs, beautiful and yet threatening, share with the imagery of both Caspar David Friedrich and Andrei Tarkovsky a metaphysical stillness. If a shard of ice fell from one of these apparitions it would resonate like thunder.
What to expect? Toggle
Have you been to this event? Share your insights and give it a review below.