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Tidal Ballads Sung Wrong

Tidal Ballads Sung Wrong was shown at City Assembly House in Spring 2022. The work is ‘anchored in utopian notions of a ‘pleasure’ island, part real and imagined, a human-made island is repurposed in a gallery context’. ‘Tidal Ballads’, a fictional genre of song are dystopian laments on land loss due to rising sea levels, and raises questions relating to unsustainable practices such as international shipping and the relentless activity of infrastructure.
The work references archival photography and the frenzy of rapid industrialisation that peeked in the later half of the 19th Century. When The Silt Did Rise (2022), a mixed media piece, comprising woodcut prints, ceramics and printed textiles, is a reclaiming of sorts. The natural world repositioning itself, mushrooms sprouting from a pavilion signal human defeat and the ever-expanding encroachment on nature. ‘Window’ woodcuts are a comment on the failure of idealized city planning and attempts to reconcile how humans engage with social spaces in the contemporary age.
Windows peer out from a pavilion, mirroring vacant town squares that have been marginalised and succumbed to neglect and indifference. Instead we find a world that is endlessly filtering through silt with an array of dredgers and floating docks, in an attempt to reclaim a built world that is rapidly in decline. Wood Eyes (2021), screen-printed wallpaper, renders an endless wall of felled tress. They stare out in the knowledge that human pursuit of pleasure is ultimately doomed. Perceptual concerns are a fundamental part of my practice; Tidal Ballads Sung Wrong saw a series of woodcuts produced that built on previous investigations that centred on hall and passageways.
It is expected that works produced in the coming years will continue with this line of enquiry, and are in part a reflection of environmental anxieties coupled with perceptual interests.
John Busher | Artist | Wexford, Ireland

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