BOILER ROOM GALLERY
BOILER ROOM GALLERY
ALISON WALTERS "Sea Surge"
19th May - 26th JULY 2021
Rising sea levels and floods are constantly in the news, increasingly associated with climate change, and rising global temperatures. Island nations are particularly threatened.
Water is essential to life, and important to us all for survival on a day to day basis, but we are also aware that oceans and rivers swollen by excessive rainfall can cause danger to life and communities.
Seas and rivers are also beautiful, they reflect and absorb light in a myriad of ways. They constantly draw us to them for recreation and revival of our spirits; river and coastal paths have offered relative freedom for walks in times of lockdown. They support marine and river life, plants and animals essential to our global eco-systems.
I have derived inspiration from both sea and river. I visited Naxos, Greece in 2019 and later managed trips to Dorset and Llangenith, Wales. I particularly observed the liminal areas, where sea meets land, both in calm times and when the sea is rougher, creating surges. The Thames at Abingdon floods most years, taking over the adjacent meadows. While there is a sense of danger and concern that floods might spread further into the town, there is also beauty in reflected light from the sky and surrounding woodland. Great trees are blown down by storms, exposing their root systems which draw water from the soil.
I spent time last spring and summer by hedgerows near canals and rivers, painting watercolours on the spot, as the seasons changed.
I have used acrylics and oils in my larger paintings, experimenting with brush strokes and mark making, enjoying the paint and varying my colour palette. Some of my smaller watercolours are based directly on what I see, others are very free in their use of colour, paint and water, taking their own direction.
'The New Woman'
Portraits and notes from interviews with women in Kabul in 2019, exploring the role of beauty in their lives.
Amidst one of the worst summers for civilian casualties in Afghanistan’s history (2019), Elena Gallina flew to Kabul to photograph and interview dozens of women about the role beauty plays in their lives: is it a strength or weakness, a source of power or a means of exploitation?
‘’I chose to photograph and speak to Afghan women because they, far too often in the last two decades, have been tokenized, victimized, and painted in only one light by the international community. Yes, they are on the frontlines. But they are neither victims nor heroes, they are simply women like all the rest, crying out to create a new kingdom.’’ – Gallina
The exhibition, unstaged portraits and ponderings, invites viewers to suspend prior conceptions of “women in war zones” and enter into a complicated, universally applicable, conversation about the dualities of beauty.
Elena has been researching violence against women for many years. Having grown up in Kosovo in the aftermath of the genocide and worked in refugee camps across the Middle East since she was 17, her understanding of the complications of beauty and exploitation are deeply personal. Motivated by her own experience and those who have inspired her, her photography captures the double standards put upon women and elevates the nuances of their experience. She is currently a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford studying the historic links between women’s empowerment and physical fitness.