Luke Elwes - Floating World: Work in dialogue with John Constable
In his works on paper Luke Elwes captures the transient nature of place and memory. His chosen territory Landemere, is close to the Stour estuary where Constable worked, and it is similarly flat under an East Anglian sky. He captures the elemental flow of life on the tidal margins of the Essex backwaters and he uses the elements themselves, combining coloured pigments with estuarine silt and inks washed with rain and salt water.
‘They are executed under an open sky, at dawn or dusk, sometimes in the rain or late at night, and they remain close to the ground or the water, where the shifting light radiates across the salt marshes and the tides move back and forth through the delicate maze of creeks and channels.
They are a fragile record of process and time, the uncertain result of a particular moment of elemental engagement, made without correction, at one sitting.
The location provides just a beginning, a way of collecting particles of colour and light and a way of observing the play of prevailing conditions on a paper surface, which, once it is scattered with incidental markings and stained with coloured inks and organic matter, is then allowed to become saturated by the surrounding waters’.
In a letter to the artist Robert Macfarlane, author of the The Wild Places, Granta 2008 and ‘The Old Ways: A Journey on Foot (Penguin 2012) wrote,
‘..what I find so unusual and compelling about the work: its localism. But as you hold on to a leaf, a shell, feather, or pebble before returning it to its microcosmos, you learn to see not the names of things but the things themselves ...we are surrenders of sorts’.