Scintilla: the glittering speck

Posted on Aug 28, 2016


Numbers, 31:23 everything that may abide the fire, you shall make to go through the fire, and it shall be clean; nevertheless it shall be purified with the water for impurity: and all that doesn’t withstand the fire you shall make to go through the water.

On the floor I feel more at ease.I feel nearer, more part of the painting, since this way I can walk around it, work from the four sides and literally be in the painting.
Jackson Pollock.

Rebecca Hind’s has painted Scintilla to confront and meditate on the transmutation of life and death and as seen through the progression of The Passion. To find a language away from the pictorial narative of Calvary. In her images the body is gone. The butchering cross removed. The conflict of the crime and the miracle are put aside. The overworked icons of guilt and suffering are resigned to their broding masculine and lightless cave.
She has chosen the reincarnation of light to illuminate the poetic might of existence.

Outside the centuries roll on flooded by engulfing daylight and deepened by the shadows of mysterious night. Our little lives flickering under the infinity of stars and tons of restless sky and the overwhelming motor of time, most sensually felt through the cycle of days and the rhythmic chain of seasons.
These have become the witness for her. Their metamorphosis through water and fire are discribing a different presence of spiritual significance. A place where the static symbol is denied and the shuddering flames and iridescent skies will only let metaphor join them in the potency of their of cyclic renewal and the dynamism of belief.

Scintilla is a visual orchestration of life, made to echo inside the tall paleness of Christ Church Spitalfields. An evocation of landscape and elements that wants to summon the potent majesty of natures shifting energy to the core of Hawkesmoor’s poised linear order. Hind’s painted installation conducts the spectator through the silent magnitude of celestial orbit to brooding clouds that nudge between storm and revelation, to the hand powered fires of a blacksmith’s roaring forge. In these paintings the sparks that fly upwards do so positively, scratching the swirling darkness into signs of language, seeds of hope.

The dominant paintings of the Triptych Reredos bring all these elements and forces together to balance a fragile English landscape between the swollen arc of the moon and a fire dish of established flame. Between the enternal and the momentary.
A single fork of lightning crackles through the water colour sky , illuminating the scene in a trapped expectant moment. This is the country of Joseph of Arimathea, carrying his thorny staff to Glastonbury or Blake’s Christ striding under heavy English clouds. This place is known; the scenery for the opening of myth and prophecy and sustaining it in uneasy anticipation. Artists have continually found inspiration in the sense of waiting that permeates the hills and downs of the rural south and midlands. Paul Nash roamed and captured the enigmatic Wittenham Clumps that are only a few short steps from Hind and her studio in Dorchester upon Thames. It is this sense of ‘knowing something’ that haunts the painted field. A longing to remember and be able to tell.

The original and vibrant twist that Hind’s vision brings is a hugely varied field of focus. From telescopic reaching into the immeasurable darkness of the heavens to the white-hot close up of searing flame. Between the physical presence of temperature and the impossible proximity of Lunar influence. She invents an intimacy that takes us alarmingly close to her subject. Melting the polite edge of objectivity to allow the phenomena of her clouds and fires, moons and suns to become living forces that demand our permeability. What makes this even more remarkable is the fact that they are made through a process of paradox.

Watercolour painting always summons up, faint spinsterish brushwork on over precious (and priced) whips of paper. Hind often paints without a brush, distributing ingenious manipulation of spilt vivid colour with her physical strength. Lifting the entire frame that holds the 3-metre swathe of paper. Lying and stretching across its floor-based panorama. Tilting and chasing the movement of the runs. Staunching the flows and teasing the tributaries until multiples layers begin to give the right depth of hue and resonance of shadow. The surface of the painting is also vital. Achieving the right texture of mark and absorption makes it throb and contort with immediacy. This is how she coaxes the white heat out of her flames. The infinity out of her night skies. These sublime saturations create pitches of tone and crescendos of colour that are rarely seen elsewhere. A fuller range of these fathomless surfaces can be seen in the accompanying works that lead up to the altar painting. In ‘Murmuration’, which is the precise term for the mass flocking of starlings. Their swirling signature of flight can be seen like the lightening of the central picture, dividing the composition. But in this pale and ominous sky their presence is seen as a shadow or stain. It is only when we get closer and enter their field of influence that they declare themselves as a shrieking, writhing mass of choreographed life. Their magnificent turmoil highlit by the tiny white mark of one slow, far-off gull.

This is another of Hind’s sparks. A scintilla of elsewhere. The glittering speck like the stars that hide in the reflected glow of her Lunar portraits that recently graced The Museum of the History of Science in Oxford. These little traces are not to be underestimated, they exist in the sensual drama of her works of hope and faith. For it is in their dizzyingly transience or their discreet infinity that we find ourselves. A fleck of memory that the wideness of creation is trying to remember.

Professor B Catling RA