Drowning Skies - Lulu MacDonald
The stories of this exhibition start, and remain, in the end times. An end of a partnership, a near end from a world war, and now, the possibility of an Endgame.
Green windows. A tool devised by the surrealist artist Marcel Moore (Suzanne) to filter out their grief for the death of Claude Cuhun (Lucy). Grief marooned on the island of Jersey. Supposedly, Marcel’s loss became unbearable when they witnessed the sea. The windows were a way of mitigating Marcel’s sorrow—the green somehow cancelled any distinction of an ocean through the glass.
For many, the sea is a space for renewal and freedom. We go to the sea for relaxation and leisure. Yet to live by the sea often involves living with forces that are overbearing and unforgiving. For some, the seas are closing in. For others, the sea blockades one chance at a life from another. The sea is, therefore, as synonymous with overwhelmingness and strandedness, as it is with well-being and possibility.
Oceans are chthonic spaces, which means they confront us with Unknowns and Underworlds. Seventy per cent of Earth’s surface lies below the oceans, yet we know more about the Moon’s crust than our ocean floors. Oceans conjure and mix feelings of awe and terror, attitudes of hubris and humility, and practices of destruction and acquisition. Through our fear of Unknowns, the ocean is often pitched as a battleground between Man and Nature. Accordingly, the seas are increasingly being frontiered, mapped, territorialised and accounted for, so that they may be better harvested, mined, commodified and controlled.
Yet the sea is often experienced as fluid and freeing. It is unruly and unpredictable. Sometimes even metamorphic. It is a space for feeling other, and existing with, Others. Perhaps, in these end times, getting acquainted with treading water will be very necessary. The need to practice responsivity and, ultimately, survival. The need to mobilise a sense of humility towards what is limited, beyond us, precious beyond money—and, increasingly fragile. The need to find acceptance with and in environmental liminality.
Lulu MacDonald’s work confronts us with these dualities, ambiguities and mixed waves of emotions. Her sculptures are spaces that hold clashing scales and forces; past, present and future actions; and show sensitivity towards the intrinsic interdependencies shared between human and non-human worlds. As a result, her work brings forth a sense of the ecological—a vital philosophy for these end of times. MacDonald’s art is personal and planetary, mournful and regenerative, hopeless and hopeful. It is treading water in an Unknown World.