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 along with fieldwork and harvesting and making pigments, my paintings reveal different types of residue of human impacts on our planet. These traces can be both visual and colourful but sometimes microscopic and hidden. In these stratified landscapes the earth ruptures and transforms as ghosts of deep time intersect with fragments of my memories. This imagery is bound with my own harvested materials and pigments, the clay of eroding cliffs, brickwork from houses which have toppled into the sea and the waste from old batteries. These materials are symptoms and traces of human histories and impacts but also the overwhelming power of nature. They are buried in the paintings’ layers, echoing our own growing presence in the current and future strata of the Earth, and the strands of human histories entwined with them. These multiple entanglements can be excavated; fragments of image and symbol to engage with and read through, making different visual connections. For me, this layering and interweaving of meaning through imagery and material is an ongoing process of reflecting on the changing conditions of our planet and imagining alternate ways of thinking about our relationship to both our past and our future.

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