Visiting Artist Sarah Hatton at the James Baird Gallery
By Martin Poole
Sarah Hatton, an exciting visual artist, will be exhibiting a series of paintings titled “Wake” at the James Baird Gallery in Pouch Cove from May 31 to June 20. The reception for the event will be on May 31 from 2 – 6pm. I will discuss Hatton’s work in two stages, first her “Wake” series, and second, her earlier “Bee Works.”
“Wake” is a series of oil paintings that uses water as the central motif, in both subject matter and process. All paintings share a sense of fluidity; a deliberate flow and balance of colour and composition that makes these depictions appear as unified elements. Water pervades these paintings in great illustrative detail and appears as a central motivator. Water gives life, and in many ways it has given us a means of employment. Hatton’s work evokes water as a vessel which encounters everything that is within reach; a suspended human figure that is in itself diminished for it is becoming something else. Likewise, it’s a phoenix that is extinguished, appearing in a nullified state, yet it is verging on another rebirth of alteration. Water is also revealed in other dimensions; as reflecting the sky, or drippings which cascade across the images leaving a coloured trail, and seem to appear outside of the subject matter as layered atop the image, yet it further illustrates the omniscience of water as the sole purveyor of nature and life.
Orders and geometric patterns occur constantly in nature, as a murmuration of starlings, or the geometric perfection of honeycombs, flowers, orbits and planets. Hatton’s “Bee Works” which were created in 2013, are large sized mathematical patterns composed of deceased honey bees on resin and panel. These works command the attention of the viewer for it is impossible not to notice that a deep message is being evoked through its sheer simplicity. Of course, Hatton’s “Bee Works” can be considered didactic or activist-art when judged explicitly by the bee carcasses which were used as the primary media. However, when considering the media and the patterns, one can find a more disinterested and pure element of artistic communicability; a certain structure that represents a fabricated order. This order was constructed by Hatton, which exemplifies an imposition by an other, a mimicry of our constant alterations of nature to suit our own purposes. The infamous neonicotinoid insecticide was created to reduce toxicity in mammals, and to increase toxicity in insects. Since then, millions of honey bees died as a result of this formula. Through the lens of Hatton’s work, the insecticide becomes the pattern; a fabrication that we have imposed on nature, and has produced devastating results.
When one views Hatton’s work the pattern is seen first, and it is not until one looks closely that the complexity of her art is revealed. And there lies the the point: our desire to control nature through imposed systems which change the order of nature at a foundational level, takes for granted many unknowns which may arise, and these unknowns arise after we see the complete picture.
Hatton is an evocative artist with immense talent. She will be visiting the James Baird gallery on May 31 for the reception. Come and join in on an exploration of her work.