Imogen Rorke

Imogen Rorke

CHAOS AND CALM | A response to and a respite from my life.

Join us for the open­ing evening on Fri­day 21st June 17:30 onwards, all welcome!

I nearly called this show ‘“Driven to Abstraction”, My Family and Other Reasons Why I Paint’. I feel compelled to create and make work, as an escape, a retreat, a therapy, a release. I can’t not create. However, I am first and foremost a mum of three boys (twins 8 and a 9-year-old), all three are homeschooled. Life for me is full, to say the least; my role and responsibilities can sometimes feel overwhelming to the point of suffocation. In the past, my sense of self has been lost in the melee of everyday life.
I have recently had a shift in my perception of why I make art; I used to think myself as an artist in spite of my role as a mother, that (with frustration) motherhood was preventing me from fully fulfilling my role as an artist. I have come to realise that is because of motherhood that I must also be an artist, to create balance in my life, to fulfil my whole self and to express my life experiences.
In addition, my paintings are a direct response to, rather than in-spite of, my role as a mother. My practice is respite from the chaos, but more than being a cathartic exercise, the paintings themselves are a direct expression of the all-encompassing demands upon me and the constant fluctuation between chaos and calm that is my life.

The need for emotional regulation is highly prevalent in our family. Soothing behaviours such as rhythmic patting and humming in a low frequency help to calm mounting stress and anxiety, and as I comfort my children, I notice how these behaviours also benefit me.
I began to understand the use of rhythmic mark making in my paintings; dots, dashes and lines, as a direct expression of self regulation; a kind of meditative process of regaining calm and order in my life. These marks, made slowly and rhythmically and often whilst humming in a low monotone, are in opposition with and contrast to the violent scribbles, and large expanses of paint applied in fast expressive strokes, often in a frenzy of energetic expression. These can be understood as an expression of the chaotic whirlwind of daily life; in the paintings you can see oscillation between control and chaos; between rhythm, balance and frenetic scribbles and deliberate ‘patting’ marks.

It is through this process, the layering of colours, textures and marks, that the paintings emerge, without preconception. I find that if I plan, or think about a painting too much, it will often end up tight and lacking authenticity. My aim is to paint without thought intervening, but with intuition; I let the painting and the process lead me. Again, there is oscillation between control, (in the choice of colours and composition), and the intuitive mark making, the letting go and pure expression. The paintings sometimes take months to resolve, I look at them for a long time, pondering what they need to become their own entity, and tell me they are finished. They are never perfect; they could always be ‘other’. I like that in this way, the process of painting, and the paintings themselves reflect life, never perfect and could always be other, but it is in the process that we learn, grow, and find joy in the chaos and calm.
Imogen Rorke