Michelle Mckinney’s art is work of elegant simplicity which, in itself, is the first of many seductions into an engagement with a complex network of tensions. The work is bedded in the clear space between opposites; the movement captured in stillness; the fragility and ephemerality of nature captured in the strength and permanence of industrial, man made materials; inexorable freedom within the clinically defined limitations of space. It is the dialogue that takes place between these polarities that engage so forcefully. Whilst utilising symbols found in nature that have a timeless constancy, the methods and media used are innovative applications of contemporary industrial materials subtly handled so that even the closest scrutiny give almost no intimation of their origins. This play between the timeless and the immediate is at the heart of Michelle's work. However tranquil the order of the instant may seem it cannot segregate itself from the underlying chaos of nature and it is into this engagement with chaos that we are lured, so unassumingly, by the captivating simplicity of order.
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What is the sensation we experience while interacting with nature when words fail or we find ourselves awed beyond reason? How does an artist convey the indescribable and translate the metaphysical to material? ‘The Sublime Nature of Being’ explores the humbling, purity of the natural cosmos and our relationship to it by creating imagined, transportive worlds, conjured through the magic of creativity.
For centuries, scholars have debated the term ‘Sublime’ in relation to works of art, and artists have sought to evoke or respond to it. But what is ‘The Sublime’? The sublime is a philosophical approach and state of mind often defined as having the quality of such greatness, whether spiritual, physical, aesthetic or moral, that our ability to perceive or comprehend it is temporarily overwhelmed by a sense of the wonder and impermanence of the universe.
‘The Sublime Nature of Being’ explores aspects of this philosophy and the modern interpretation of the Japanese term ‘Ukiyo’ meaning ‘living in the moment, detached from the bothers of life,’ and examines the belief that contemplation of these themes leads to the subsequent feelings of admiration and responsibility. This allows for the intertwining of aesthetics and ethics, two key elements that are relevant to society today, especially in light of change and apprehension as we consider the future of humanity.
Creating an immersive and multisensory experience that includes three-dimensional installations, sound and scent, a play on time and space, contrasts of light and shadow, elemental materials and fluid forms, ‘The Sublime Nature of Being’ invites the audience on a unique journey with a contemplative dimension – a search for a higher truth. By stepping into the space, one is transported into a utopian sanctuary of tranquility and beauty, providing a temporary reprieve and poetic antidote to the external chaos of the present day.