Low Tide

Natural history drawings are entrenched in the scientific enterprise of observing and illustrating subjects found in nature. The discipline of Natural History strives to capture both the archetypal and the rare, it belongs to an encyclopaedic tradition that discovers, observes, describes to classify and order. Its’ history is inextricably intertwined with colonial enterprise and global expansion. It is a tradition that presupposes scientific objectivity and rationality. But, is it possible to collect and describe something objectively with detachment? Don’t our feelings shape the way we represent objects? Are the objects not transformed by our emotions and interpretation? And conversely, are we not changed by what we observe and render?

Low tide is a series of watercolours that depict objects – broken shells, bleached corals, wave-washed pebbles, and porous limestones fused with aquatic bones and other detritus left behind by retreating tides. Though this series draws upon the language of Natural history illustrations, the watercolours do not represent perfect examples of any genus. These watercolours are studies of debris, mutilated and transformed, marred by the same passage of time that weighed heavily on me. The images are not coloured simply by the rich pigments ground to fine dust in a mortar and pestle, but also by the overwhelming feeling of pain and loneliness. These were created amidst personal loss, isolation and uncertainty, and are therefore inscribed by mourning, a longing to relate to something beyond my immediate circumstances. They are an attempt to hold on to the essence of things before it fades. These watercolours are painted in memory of all those loved ones whose absence slowly corrodes the recesses of our hearts with the hope that someday we will be reunited on a sandy shore sheltered from time.