David Woodings – Magdelane Clare – Amy Couling

David Woodings Magdelane Clare Amy Couling

Showing 18th January 2023 - 4th February 2023

Exhibition Information

David Woodings – Magdelane Clare – Amy Couling - David Woodings Magdelane Clare Amy Couling

David Woodings

In the garden of early delights

These works are really an accumulated narrative over many years and have their genesis in my continued interest in the Anthropocene. Much of the last decade’s work has, I suspect, been influenced in more ways than I am probably prepared to admit, by the events of the Christchurch earthquakes, and that, overlapping my decades old interest in climate change. I have frequently used the term ‘the species has amused itself to death’ [ a reference to Neil Postman’s book Amusing ourselves to death and Roger Waters Amused to death album released in 1987] to reference images within my work, noting that I often feel as if I am myself doing the same, particularly as I get older. So, the images are to be seen as both amusing and anxious images of our time. So, a complex set of underlying narratives with which to ‘read’ the paintings. This is further amplified with the titles referencing two equally obscure terms; grotteschi, and brethren of the common life.

There are subtle references in these ‘grotteschi’ images to a couple of my favourite artists and their works, most notably Hieronymus Bosch for the concept around ‘The garden of earthly delights’ and the visual effects and dramatic use of chiaroscuro of the artist Caravaggio (often called tenebrism, a dominant stylistic element, transfixing subjects in bright shafts of light and darkening shadows), and though ‘photorealistic’ as my painting style continues to reflect (excuse the pun) the aggregates could also be considered within the ‘all over abstraction’ genre [Uniform treatment of all sections of the surface are the hallmark of all-over painting. All-over paintings lack a dominant point of interest].


Since at least the 18th century (in French and German as well as English), grotesque has come to be used as a general adjective for the strange, mysterious, magnificent, fantastic, hideous, ugly, incongruous, unpleasant, or disgusting, and thus is often used to describe weird shapes and distorted forms. In art, performance, and literature, however, grotesque may also refer to something that simultaneously invokes in an audience a feeling of uncomfortable bizarreness as well as sympathetic pity.

Brethren of the common life

During the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries in Germany and the Netherlands, a rising tide of mystical lay piety grew up outside the official church. Under the leadership of Gerhard Groote* (1340-84), an interest in the inner life of the soul and the necessity of imitating the life of Christ by loving one’s neighbour as oneself had become popular in the low countries. The Brethren of the Common Life did not constitute regular religious orders, but they took informal vows and were entirely self-supporting. They pooled their money in a common fund from which each drew expenses, the surplus being used for charity. 


Magdelane Clare

“Nocturnal Order”

Drapery, velvety ash and smoke. Breasts, bottom curves and cold stares. Magdelane Clare’s latest works incorporate pre and post notions questioning a certain historical feminine. Witches as a collective group were archetypally described as evil women and recognised by their physical and behavioural markers. The questioning of these attributes and the inherent “negative” nature is what Magdelane poses in this beginning collection. A further subversion of imagery from Renaissance paintings depicting goddesses, witches and problematic characters. 

We live in an advanced society with the pressures of cultural, spiritual and personal judgement is at our finger tips and Clare makes an attempt to remind us that “witch-hunts” never really stopped. It is the perception of others which marks one as an outsider and she alludes to the arbitrary selection of “evil” ques belonging to feminine forms. Does their tongue make the words nasty? Do their breasts bear a sinister threat? Is it the dancing which shakes your soul with uncomfortable energy or are their spells actually working? 

Clare’s previous show referenced amalgamated goddess and witch portraiture, this time the portraits have evolved from only occult images. 

Magdelane Clare practice incorporates experimental techniques like William S. Burroughs “cut up” concept, symmetrical magic from ancient prose where items can represent other things, and ritual action in creating the source images for these paintings. She attempts to permeate a sense of the Witch Lore and energy into these works and invites the audience to judge freely the form without any consequence to the viewer or viewed.

Amy Couling 

Kizuna.   ( Deep bonds and connections between people )

My work is heavily influenced by my Japanese heritage and I draw inspiration from the rich symbolism in kimono patterns, ukiyoe woodblock prints and my family history. 

Representation of Japanese people, especially Japanese women, has historically been sexualised, exoticised and appropriated by Western art and media. It has also been rife with misinformation about Japanese culture. My work pushes back on these notions by portraying empowering images of Japanese women and showcasing Japan’s rich cultural background through the kimono. 

I primarily work with gouache on paper, but I have also worked with porcelain in ceramics and silk screen printing on textiles to make my own kimono. I strive to create more representation of women with mixed backgrounds like myself and my art practice is an ongoing exploration of identity, place and belonging. 

Full Exhibition Works

David Woodings – Magdelane Clare – Amy Couling - David Woodings Magdelane Clare Amy Couling

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