Viewing single post of blog Zanny Mellor – a-n Travel Bursary 2016

The vastness and remoteness of Iceland attracts me as I search to distance myself from urban speed and to get on geological time. This attempt to find a slowness that I associate with landscape is not really ‘slow’, as Iceland is alive with activity both geothermal and climatically, but might be an attempt to find a mental stasis; something that involves less human interaction. There is something about aloneness that slows you down.  I often feel carried along in the urban tide like flotsam, unable to fight the currents that govern your body without your consent. And so place and geography has a huge part to play in our physical and mental rhythms.

Time and light as themes are intrinsically linked and I find myself wondering how the never ending day (and consequently winter darkness) affects populations at similar and more extreme latitudes both biologically and psychologically. Obviously this circadian shift creeps up slowly on you as the seasons change and so is less pronounced than my short experience of it. How might it affect emotions like optimism and pessimism? The darkness and lightness within are not culturally new themes yet they have renewed context in our daily relationship with artificial, screen-based light.

Artificial light gives us the capability to extend the day and be mentally productive 24/7, yet with the seasonal light shift I feel we become more aware of our body than ever.  After long days on the light filled Iceland roads, my eyes were exhausted and yet my body was still awake. This was particularly apparent during our regular dusk walks at about 11pm when the light was lowest, hugging the horizon and a jet lag feeling set in.

This natural extension brings to mind the physicality of the painting process; a brush or tool perhaps acting as an extension of the artist and for a painting to act as an extension of the self. Painting is a particularly interesting medium for exploring this relationship between internal and external rhythms. The fluidity of the medium allows for intuitive response, time becomes malleable and within your control. Process and temporality have therefore become defining areas for my exploration of paint, yet the many processes within photography, with it’s capability to capture ‘permanently’ also invite a different set of questions which I will explore in future posts.