The Natural Course of Things
12 – 20 May 2012
video, buoys, cotton sheets
The Natural Course of Things is the name given to a group exhibition in a temporary exhibition space, The Old Boot Factory in Oxford. The exhibition took its name from an installation, by the same name, by Sarah Mayhew that formed part of the exhibition.
This work was initially conceived whilst Mayhew was living in the Haute-Savoie, struck by the monumental impact that weather has had carving out deep gorges forming mountains and lakes in the region, and the impact that nature has on one’s quotidian existence; it was there that she developed an interest in attempting to represent the power, and mystery of nature through art.
The Natural Course of Things draws on Mayhew’s interest in the personalised nature of decision-making, of pathways in art and life, and the way that one’s environment can dictate direction. More recently Mayhew has been spending time on the sea, and has become intrigued by the moon, magnetic forces, and tides – the idea of greater forces being at work dictating behaviour, and a path that most are totally oblivious to. Frequently drawing upon Lacanian theory Mayhew is interested in the layered nature of understanding, this is represented in The Natural Course of Things through the mystery of ‘what lies beneath’ the man-made markers that might inform this to some extent, highlighting one’s ability to read the course of the water, wind direction, and weather conditions. In short, the necessity of, and the difficulty in gaining, 360 degree understanding to fully comprehend a situation, and make informed decisions as a consequence.
Frequently drawing on adages or aphorisms when entitling her work Mayhew reinforces the sense of familiarity, or lack of, between viewer and experience. Mayhew is captivated by the idea that personal histories build up idiosyncratic languages that are generally only known to us on a subconscious level. In The Natural Course of Things Mayhew invites the viewer to navigate unknown waters. Landmarks are placed in front of the viewer that enable them to charter their journey as they so wish, dependent upon their ability to read the language of the landmarks, and their confidence in taking on such a journey.
Repeat visits to the installation were encouraged in order to experience the installation in different weather conditions and at different times of day as the natural, exterior light had a dramatic, and often curiously transient, effect on the the viewers’ experience of the installation.
The Natural Course of Things was a group exhibition with works by Jon Barker, Joseph Fairweather Hole, and Sarah Mayhew made possible due to the kindness of the landlord, Ian Nolan Events