Andrea Hamilton: Chroma
15 October – 11 November
127 Sloane Street, London
Returning to one of her most well-known motifs – the sea – photographic artist Andrea Hamilton presents her first major show for five years, featuring large-scale works from the recent Horizon Bursts and Horizon Strips series. Hamilton’s new pieces are from an extraordinary and expansive photographic catalogue of seascapes called Seachroma: water and sky observed and shot in natural light over a 20-year period. Hamilton plays with the natural horizon line as a point of visual and mental focus, pulling us into a nexus of energy.
Horizon Bursts are optical illusion collages comprised of slices of seascapes radiating like halos and echoing aspects of spiritual representation. In contrast Horizon Strips are layers: colours out of time spanning many years. Presented like strata, Hamilton challenges us to question how we view time – is it linear or compressed into moments? Both Bursts and Strips continue themes present in Hamilton’s earlier Water Works series, foregrounding both the symbolic power of the horizon and a sense of spiritual epiphany.
While previous series have their roots in realism, Hamilton’s new work draws on abstraction and the Colour Field Painting movement. At the heart of this oeuvre is a completely new colour system: A Nomenclature of Seachroma, the first-ever library of natural sea colour, created entirely from raw, non-Photoshopped digital files. Borrowing the title from the 19th century guide Werner’s Nomenclature of Colours, Hamilton has sought to capture the maximum chromatic variation in one place, rigorously documenting the tonal changes of air, water and light, and capturing moments of transcendence: colours that resonate with the human soul.
Over time these images – 16,000 and counting – began to constellate and resonate with each other, and now constitute a radiating body of work organised via colours. A Monochrome is where the sea and sky are the same colour, a rare phenomenon that follows from a foggy day or after a mistral. A Duochrome is defined as where the sea and sky fall into two perfect Sugimoto halves, redolent of Maria Lalic’s pigment studies but comprised entirely of raw captured light, while a Trichrome features sea and sky separated by a third band of colour on the horizon. Chroma is the culmination of an incredible exploration across time, reality, being and seeing.
The works pose fundamental questions about perception and truth. Why do we perceive the world as linear when everything: the sun, earth, our eyes, is round? How can we claim that the horizon is a static reality when we each see a slightly different, personally unique horizon wherever we stand? Each image, minimal and pure in composition, asks us to look closer, not only at the universe but at ourselves, our interactions with nature, culture, philosophy, music and so much more. The Seachroma not only capture a moment in time but set up a resonance, one the 19th century mystic and writer Romain Rolland called the Oceanic Feeling: that incredible “sensation of eternity” when we all feel something bigger than our selves.
The show also presents work from two artists who share Hamilton’s preoccupation with time and our reason for existence. The conceptual sculptor Angela Palmer is also fascinated with documenting: mapping the unseen, that which is beyond the visible, whether it is the human brain, an Egyptian child mummy or geological strata. In Anthropocene, she takes our modern human age as a starting point and works backwards. Palmer sourced 16 rocks from 3 billion years of geology, tracing a complete timeline of England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland from their position near the South Pole to the present day. The final element in the geological spine is a rock-like structure in mirror-polished steel. It symbolises the Anthropocene, the new geological epoch reflecting the hand of man. Palmer says, “Its facets are intended mirrors to reflect the image of the onlooker: the creator of a new geological age.”
Both Hamilton and Palmer take a sideways look at time: the Seachroma are concerned with capturing the ephemeral; taking a very specific moment which can never be revisited. Meanwhile Palmer’s rocks represent the other end of the scale: are ancient, coloured by the compression of time and geology. Yet both artists’ works are in a sense out of time; they are time-less.
But even a captured moment cannot last: photographs eventually fade in the very light that creates them, while rocks may take a millennia, but they too crumble. The eternal truth of entropy is the guiding light of British artist Emma Witter’s work. She utilises intricate bone structures to create fragile, flower-patterned forms, forming deeply beautiful memento mori, where the depths of our bodies are celebrated rather than mourned. The bones are blanched, dead and free of colour, yet they are also of time and still change; they degrade and fall apart.
All three artists share a common bond in their urge to create and map the underlying structure of things: they are interested in how profoundly one can explore a subject. They reveal how infinite nature can be, and show that the deeper you go, the more there is to find. It is all about what lies beneath
Andrea Hamilton’s CHROMA: A Nomenclature of Colour will launch online in the near future however articles can be accessed via the artist’s website.
Andrea Hamilton: Chroma 15 October – 11 November. Opening hours: Monday-Saturday 10am-6pm
For more information, images or interviews please contact Nico Kos Earle:
Nkos@artbastion.com +447852333135 · AH Studio +442072456664
Andrea Hamilton worked with composer Amanda Lee Falkenberg’s Sea Trilogy (23rd September 2019)