Visions from Arcadia
Contemplating the paradox of man’s attempt to create peace through a process of conflict, Visions from Arcadia reflects on the cyclical nature of war and considers the notion that despite our awareness of an alternative, that peace begets peace, mankind seems bound by a chain of conflict that cannot be broken.
Central to the work is a sense of the pastoral English landscape as the fictional refuge of a lost utopia. As such, this construct appears to enable individual soldiers to step outside of their engagement with contemporary conflict and its subsequent potential for traumatic consequence. Here they are free to surrender to contemplation, to exist without motion or resistance, to be rendered inert. Extracted from any obvious reference to confrontation these men are pictured here alone, enveloped by the natural world as they are gradually immersed within a vision inspired by Virgil’s Arcadia. In this environment the premise, man is not apart from nature but a part of nature is reinforced, as they attempt to merge with their surroundings, simulating them through the camouflage applied to their skin and clothing.
Yet despite the perceived tranquillity there is a feeling of unease, for there remains indelibly ingrained in the fabric of this landscape, echoes from the histories of war. It is though the land itself is unwittingly offering forth traces of reference and suggestion from an archive of confrontation.
Marking the preparation, departure and subsequent return from a tour of duty for the men, the passing of time, and in particular the cycle of a complete year, forms a uniting thread running through the work. Commencing in the spring and working sequentially through the seasons provides a rhythmic, continuous flow to the piece that acknowledges the relentless cycle of conflict. Less overt, but no less present are the personal histories, views and experiences of the men, disseminated over the course of the project. These visions were both consciously and sub-consciously filtered back into the making of the works, providing the impetus for scenarios that would have otherwise remained unexplored.