We’re so pleased to be hosting Amelia’s work here at The Reach as part of our Winter/Spring season of exhibitions. The suite of exhibitions that we are currently presenting -- Edward Burtynsky’s large scale photographs of global industrial impact, Lyndal Osborne’s impressive installation based on rivers in different hemispheres, and Edith Krause’s beautiful distortion of scale in her swimming woodcuts-- each deal with the importance of water to the global eco-system. Amelia’s work is certainly in good company and a welcome addition to our season of exhibitions.
My first encounter with Amelia’s paintings felt oddly personal, considering I had never met her or seen her work in person before. Nevertheless, there was something strangely familiar about these images to me. I was raised swimming in Lake Huron where my hometown had beautiful beaches, I spent summers jumping off docks in small lakes and rivers in cottage country, and more recently lived a stone’s throw from the Atlantic Ocean. Like many of us living in Canada, I’ve had the privilege of access to fresh, clean water that nourish the body, mind and spirit: water has been an embodied and visceral experience throughout my entire life. Although Amelia’s work has a fidelity to her own personal experience, there is something extraordinarily relatable about these paintings. I think that this body of work will resonate with audiences because of its unique ability to lead us into our own personal histories.
Seen from the air, bodies of water are little more than abstract patterns. Oceans become intricate arrangements of colour and light. Rivers are loose, meandering lines weaving through the land. Islands are irregular ellipses of flattened colour. From this perspective it is difficult to imagine the complexities of rivers, lakes, oceans and streams as they truly are; the delicacy of their ecological condition, the certitude of their rhythms, the worlds that they contain.
Amelia Alcock-White’s recent paintings contain something of this paradox. They are decorative surfaces and mystical portals. Figurative and familiar on one hand—conjuring the dock at the family cottage, the benign and lazily paddled river, the shimmering afternoon at the seaside—these paintings are also dramatic and highly stylized fantasies. Where the artist’s settings are not so easily relatable, we are transported into an ambiguous marine reverie where subjects are submerged in a pristine, glittering underwater universe or held rapturously in the embrace of vibrant decorative patterns.
Alcock-White’s work uses water almost exclusively as a metaphorical backdrop for human experience. It is a thematic device through which the artist articulates her personal and spiritual journey and explores her relationships with place, family and the environment. Water is the universal bond, connecting us with ourselves, each other and the natural world in the artist’s images of hope for transformation and renewal.
Laura Schneider, Curator