Robert Mead — Strays and Strata: Painting the Ghosts of the Anthropocene



Moving through the strata of my paintings digs up histories and ghosts of our past which linger in the changing landscapes of today. Using the materiality of painting and the process of harvesting and making pigments, my paintings reveal different types of residue of human impacts on our planet. These are both visual and colourful but sometimes microscopic and hidden.

Across my work spectral stray dogs inhabit post-human environments and landscapes rupture and transform. The ghosts of rock faces long since mined away intersect with crumbling frescos and figures of prehistoric hunter-gatherers.

This imagery is bound with my own materials and pigments, manganese black harvested from old batteries, the clay of eroding Norfolk cliffs, or brickwork from houses which have toppled into the sea. Symptoms and traces of human impacts, but also the overwhelming power of nature are embedded in the paintings layers, echoing our own growing presence in the current and future strata of the Earth, and the strands of human histories that are entwined with this.

These multiple entanglements are buried in the paintings, fragments of image and symbol to engage with and read through making different visual connections. For me this combination of imagery and material is an ongoing process in reflecting on the changing conditions of our planet and for imagining alternate ways of thinking about our relationship to both our past and our future.