Nicola Moss’s exhibition at ArtSway (to 26 August 2014) is both retrospective and energising. Although there is only one cabinet of medals, the drawings, sculptures and maquettes inform the little portable artworks.
Some are dream images inspired from being out on the land, a practice which Moss refers to as utiseta or ‘out, sitting for wisdom’, divining knowledge in the ancient Nordic way. Others seem to come from deep within her psyche, slowly maturing and nurtured over the years.
Two symbols regularly appear in the sculpture: the half circle (boat/coracle) and the dome/cave; one the inverse of the other. As she herself says ‘perhaps at the end of this life or on journeys to the inner realms I might glimpse the little home of my soul as a sphere once more’
For the duration of the exhibition Nicky is working on a large scale drawing covering an entire wall of the gallery – to see her progress check her Facebook page. The circle with deer rhymes with an installation on the New Forest heath to the north of the village of Sway.
Nest began as a circle of burnt gorse branches protecting a seedling from the forest deer and ponies. Part of the exhibition is a series of slides showing the progression towards today’s little tree surrounded by gorse and brambles – an artwork often disturbed by the New Forest ponies yet looked after by walkers on the heath as well as the artist.
Another installation on the heath is Equinox a line of stones, east/west. Originally the other points of the compass were not included but were added by unknown visitors – and disturbed by the ponies again. Although much of the work was inspired by journeys and time spent in America, Scotland and Northern England, the current work is richly drawn from being settled in Hampshire, in the New Forest. Anyone familiar with Nicky’s work will remember and relate to the leitmotif of trees, whether the BAMS medal in praise of The Man who Planted Trees or indeed our own opening exhibition in Simmons Gallery back in 1997, House of Trees.
The title of the exhibition Ancestors applies to a set of 8 images, all drawn within a single day as an outpouring of this utiseta, divined wisdom. Who are these people, these serene ‘ancestors’ with braided hair and stoic faces? Look closely and the breath of the old women contains the anxious child, a homunculus. In the background, shadowy horses and other ghostly, magical images appear. It is a key piece in the exhibition. Catch the exhibition if you can – if not take a look at Nicola Moss’s work on her Facebook page, and our Simmons Gallery Facebook page for other photos. The exhibition is shared with Simon Beeson – Building Walden 2014. Completely different yet sharing fundamental simplicity and authenticity; that’s the subject for another blog !