And Then There Were None forms part of an ongoing investigation of the picturesque.  In the series vantage point is explored as an integral element of the picturesque effect with the English country house being recognised as a defining space of social and physical elevation. Country houses of the late 18th and early 19th century were the crucible of the Picturesque movement where surrounding landscapes were 'naturalised' in order to evoke a more romantic, less industrialised, sense of the land. In the series, the country house is presented as the site of a 'whodunit' drama where the clues point towards misdemeanour and denial. Images such as Boudoir with Gun might make us think of abuses of power deriving from social and economic advantage but others - Study with Daffodils or Library with Knitting Needles, for instance, are less straightforward in their testimony. Both refer us to the land but in a way that runs contrary to the idea of land as commodity or expression of wealth. The daffodils perhaps allude more to romanticism than economic pragmatism, and the raw wool on the knitting needles is an ambiguous symbol of industry. Within this denial of land as land there emerges a sign of incompleteness - a psychical lack. The country house, it could be said, confers subjecthood on those who acknowledge its rich historical textures as their heritage. To do so, however, the viewer must negotiate a turbulence of myth and narrative. Subject status is gathered from the indicators of authoritative language, namely the treasured artefacts that speak of status and long-standing tradition. In the work this is contrasted with the external space, glimpsed through windows and referenced through decorative elements and invading light. Whilst the subject of ocular advantage in the house marks an entry into an abstract (paternal) symbolic order, the picturesque (imaginary) exterior is felt to be steadfast and maternal, and from a distance at least appears capable of returning a state of wholeness and stabilising identity.


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Library with Knitting Needles (2015, 100cm x 75cm)