Hollybush Gardens is pleased to present Been and Gone, the first exhibition with the gallery by British- born, New York-based artist Siobhan Liddell, comprising a new body of works made from 2022–2023. Liddell’s work delves into felt moments from the most mundane to the monumental. The buildings, landscapes, gardens and bedrooms, journey us through the multilayered nature of being alive; the subtlety, complexity and intensity of loving, longing and losing. Both melancholy and playfulness are woven through the imagery, where we find echoes of bodies, faces and animals. The ceramic objects cleverly interact in these scenes, challenging our perception of form and space. Lived narratives can be seen and felt, yet the deeper stories within the imagery ultimately remain elusive. As a good poem loses its nuance when explained, Liddell’s paintings thrive in their enigmatic essence.
The works in Been and Gone explore urban, rural, imagined, and remembered landscapes, from Greenwich Village in New York to the coastline of Kent. Many of the works were made following a trip to the Isle of Skye in the Spring of 2022, such as Timelessness and Transience (2022), in which a ceramic cigarette is suspended above a pool of water at the foot of the mountains behind – a juxtaposition of the fleeting and geologic time. In Trillions of Trillions (2023), a portrait of the white cliffs of Dover suggests a contemplation of deep time. In this painting, the cliffs fill the entirety of the plane; the multiple layers of chalk are a reminder of the skeletons of plankton, from which they were formed hundreds of millions of years ago. Through the Window (2023) depicts cliffs facing out towards Europe, visible in the distance through the panes of a cottage window, and framed by a pair of two paper napkin curtains. Two silhouetted heads shimmer behind a veil of tessellating green ceramic leaves in The Rustle of Waves (2022), while in Julius’ (2022) a pair of legs touch beneath the counter in the iconic New York gay bar. Before the Light (2023), captures the outline of a kneeling figure crawling around on the studio floor, perhaps looking for early morning inspiration.
The viewer is invited to meander through these worlds, where tea cups, mushrooms, branches, and hands hold, obscure and dance. Liddell’s ability to evoke the sublime from the ordinary, and the ordinary from the sublime, creates fleeting yet enduring poems on the tender nature of existence.