Anthony McIntosh Painter

My work reflects an investigation of the creation, storage and retrieval of memory.

Memory is neither pure nor innocent. We can choose to remember or to forget; to reveal or to hide; to bury or to exhume. Memory is also unpredictable; in retelling the past we often encounter versions that we do not recognise.

The use of steel as a support is a feature of many pieces. I first chose rusting steel for the resonance it has with my own childhood memories of the pit villages and cotton towns in Lancashire . Most of my family were miners and the rusting artefacts of their labours can still be readily found on the wastelands that once supported thriving communities. In combining the steel with paint, print, photography, ephemera and household objects, I seek to extend my work beyond the painted canvas. I exploit the process of rust formation, an apt metaphor for the construction and disintegration of recollection, to augment the imagery and to suggest the passage of time. The paintings represent places of intimacies, containers of lives and vessels of memory. They are crumpled palimpsests of the soul intended to act as mnemogogic texts stimulating a personal and distinct reverie in each of us. The work holds echoes of childhood, community, inter-personal and family dynamics and events that had enormous impact on mine and other families such as the First World War. Veiling and concealing, I seek to imply the mystical and mysterious. Fragmentation becomes a strong component; it is art as archaeology, anamnesis, an excavation of the unconscious and the dream state.

I am also interested in exploring the relationship between personal histories, identity and sense of place; between the historic built environment and collective memory. I have had several major exhibitions in Italy including one in an old asylum (Imola); another in a gallery within the confines of an ancient, de-consecrated church (Castel Bolognese); and a third in an 18th century Palazzo (Faenza). The superimposing of the present over layers of the past is a concept relevant to my current research a dialogue between art and the traces left by those who have gone before. I am currently researching projects relating to Ellis Island; and an ancient pathway dedicated to The Magdalen in the Apennines of Emilia Romagna, Italy.

Artist's statement

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