The collected works of Maria Gortan and Karen Heald, held here in these pages, offer a lens through which to sense their shared view of the world; to see, primarily, but also to feel. Their work is propositional; each piece is suggestive of presence in a place, in a position, in a state of contemplation. Each frame freezes the viewer in suspended time and reflects on the condition of being, subjectively and curiously, in between the before and the after, at a point of becoming located and oriented. These artists use recall, structured or unstructured memory, as a gesture of innocence and thereby question certainty and fixed or concrete realities by supposing that there is a possibility for reimagining narratives and restarting the story of what we presume to know. It can be something other because it feels like something other and because there is an option to experience logic in another way.
Of course, they have different means and separate concerns or preoccupations but they collide and correspond around philosophical choices that propose reality as a distortion of experience. As such, they are not responding to what is or what has been but more on a balance of doubt and, therefore, intrigue; they offer convergence around a moment of symmetry that creates form from not knowing and memory from not remembering.
Through these pages and these records of artistic interventions and arrested narratives we can access emotions at the periphery of our vision and aside from our desire to rationalise and read the image or setting. It is normal within the realm of daily experience to become momentarily aware of our underlying anxieties, awkwardness, or melancholia, or our conviction, our solace, and our compassion. But we normally choose to move past and beyond those awakenings, effectively ignoring their profundity. That these two artists are willing to share their uncertainty and their speculative insights into their world with such an open and generous devotion to human virtues is a form of political activism. It suggests that we can trust the passions that lead us to compassion and thereby value our different realities; I’m going to reveal some detail of my experiences because I’m interested in you. It is this quality of humanity in their work that frames its poetry.
I’ve witnessed the growing relationship between these two artists evolve over a number of years. There is a deepening resolve to share and collaborate around sensibilities and insights that defy form or description. The quality of their mutual trust and their faith in the collaborative process demonstrates belief in the authenticity of their intentions. They share a willingness to embrace gestures that cannot be confirmed beyond the craft and beauty of their expression. Of course, Karen Heald and Maria Garton are artists who deploy different means and different knowledge, but this is one of the conditions that makes their collaboration so intriguing. They share motive and motivation. Their collusion is at once intellectual and intuitive; considered and spontaneous. It is a point of encounter that offers hope in that it distils complex notions of place, and location, and history, and time, and identity into a discourse about the environment that we each carry with us as we discover our unique perspective view of our psychic and physical realities; we believe differently but for a similar purpose.