If you were wondering where all the bees had gone, look no further than Jessica Albarn’s remarkable exhibition Resurrection, which is showing at the Lawrence Alkin Gallery on New Crompton Street until July 12th.
Albarn explores the supposed oxymoron of beauty in death; reviving specifically beauty in the life and death of the bee, along with other insects and small animals. The intricate artwork is displayed as paintings on glass, clay, canvas and as sketchings on paper, which is Jessica’s signature style. The predominance of the bee within the exhibition is an exploration of the growing concern for their species; being a rare and dying presence within our environment, the fight to preserve this intricately beautiful and ecologically essential creature is echoed within the natural themes and fascinatingly unique aesthetics of the exhibition.
However the work explores not only the artistry of insects in death, but metaphorically shines light on the need in life, to draw out and treasure the exquisite essences of the lifecycle even in the shadow of death and decay.
‘Till death us lay
to ripe mellow here, we are stubborn clay.
Parents make us earth, and souls dignify.
Us to be glass; here we grow gold we lie.’
This elegiac quote from John Donne is printed at the entrance to the gallery and on a wooden shrine in the basement of the gallery. It evokes symmetrically with the artwork, through the opulent golden imagery, also to be seen within the coloured works of the bees, the resurrection of death from its customary poetic darkness to the light of artistic splendour. The exhibition invigorates a theme which has so often been shrouded in obscure despondency.
The significance of Albarn’s work can be most eloquently expressed within her own words ‘I draw dead things because I want to draw out the beauty, preserve it and disconnect it from the decay. I treasure it and in some sense resurrect it.’
To find out more visit the Lawrence Alkin Gallery’s website: http://www.lawrencealkingallery.com/
By Jennifer Sterne