‘Horticulture Part One: Discount Flights’ – Clare Charnley

26 July 1997 — 21 September 1997

Horticulture Part 1 & 2 by Clare Charnley is a collaborative project between Castlefield Gallery and Leeds Metropolitan University Gallery

The exhibition juxtaposes seemingly unrelated objects and materials including rose briars, electric cabling and lawyer’s sealing wax to explore relationships between culture and nature. In addition Charnley makes use of constructed images and large-scale photogrammes to present these objects in diverse contexts and formats, resulting in subtle alterations to the characteristics of the materials, which act as triggers to the imagination.

Charnley is playing around with the convention of studio photography and the perfection that reality denies. Electrical cabling encrusted with thorns is decorated with fake water droplets, and sealing wax is used to form real droplets in a way that suggests not so much perfection as systemic disease, confounding a romantic view of nature.

“Our culture has developed a concept of nature as a peg on which to hang our collective imaginings,” describes Clare Charnley, “A pretend outside from which to regard ourselves. ‘Discount Flights’ uses these complex fantasies as raw material, together with both natural and manufactured objects. Images active in the works are often contradictory – the notion of nature as the transcendent sublime, of romantic escape, clashes with images of closure when nature is utilised as a symbol of nationhood. Equally, connotations of the natural as being pure or balanced stand in opposition to more threatening ideas of it as something uncontrolled, a place of excessive sexuality, aggression and disease.”

Thus the work becomes a kind of confrontational romp around the chaotic borderlands of nature and culture, the rational and the irrational. Nothing is settled. ‘Discount Flights’ is a body of works, which reference each other by a process of mirroring, miming, grafting and splicing.

Clare Charnley was born and studied in Leeds where she still lives and works. She has exhibited widely; recent projects include a summer residency at Whitechapel (1993), a one person exhibition at City Racing, London (1993) and collaborations with performance artist Lisa Watts.