Inteview with ‘Crow of Minerva’.
A blog supporting and promoting Women Artists - June 2019
Interview between Jane Pryor and Miranda Boulton for Assemblage Magazine - June 2019
"Overview Effect" - Essay by Anna MacNay, 2016
In her predominantly grisaille paintings of bunches of flowers, Miranda Boulton emphasises this notion of fragility, as well as playing with the idea of looking down on something from darkness. Sourcing images of flowers late at night on Instagram, Boulton commits them to memory ‘in the no man’s land between being asleep and awake’. The following day, she paints the bouquets from memory, wilting, overlaid on older paintings, creating an archaeology. ‘Art,’ writes Jean Cocteau, ‘is a marriage of the conscious and the unconscious,’ and Boulton’s work epitomises this, imbuing these memento mori with moods and emotions from her own existence and from the transient passing of others.
"Offline Online" - Catalogue Text by Jessica Lack, 2015
Miranda Boulton’s eerie paintings encapsulate that moment of anxiety and dislocation that occurs at night, when nature colludes with artificial light to transform the familiar into something foreign and pregnant with atmosphere. Her paintings exude an uncertain light – ghostly and penetrative – like the flash of a camera or the amber beam of a car’s headlights passing across a bedroom wall. The results are flowers frozen in transition, as if sealed in yellow oil paint as slick and gelatinous as aspic. In this respect the still-life genre, with its focus on the transience of life and mortality, is singularly suited to the artist’s spooked vision. For Boulton’s flowers do not belong to the daytime, where fat dewy roses grow vigorous. Her subjects are stunted amoeboid shapes that emerge awkwardly out of the darkness. Painted in synthetic colours - radioactive greens, ectoplasm yellows – they are as rubbery as tofu and their slender stems, the colour of charcoal, are knotted and twisted like coarse wool.
In ‘Wake Up’, streaks of translucent oil paint add to the slippery sense that nothing is solid here, not the flowers, not the vases nor the thick grey outlines that hold back the encroaching blackness.
Born in Cambridge in 1973, Boulton studied History of Art at Sheffield Hallam University before focusing on painting. Her early works, which depicted the figure in isolation, were created by layering several drawings on top of one another. Later she concentrated on the natural world, making a series of studies of birds and trees. Since 2012 she has been studying at Turps art school, where her technique has become bolder and more expressive.
‘Middle of the Night’ is the most disconcerting of these new paintings. It has that unnatural quality found in the truncated dolls of the Modernist artist Hans Belmer. Painted in a pallid orange the colour of peach flesh, it looks like a disembodied hand. It is crude, and cartoonish, and reminiscent of Thing in The Addams Family, although it remains morbidly monstrous enough to wonder at where those severed fingers went. The circular flower stems in the foreground, denuded of petals, hover gawkily, like cheese-wire Cobras. There are blotches of gangrenous green and livid pink, and with its flaccid sexual undertones it is as uncanny as any surrealist image. Yet, like all of Boulton’s paintings, the central desire is to capture that moment of disturbance, between sleep and wakefulness, when the darkness seems full of possibility and the rational mind is consumed by the restlessness of our imaginations.
"Offline Online" - Charley Peters Review, 2015
The paintings of Miranda Boulton and Suzanne Holtom share a pronounced relationship with the line as a means of moving across and thinking though the picture plane. Off Line/On Line, showing at Studio 1.1 until 2nd November is a selection of recent paintings that clearly suggest the artists’ use of linear constructs to develop an image through the shifting grammars of formal logic and intuition. In both Boulton and Holtom’s works lines appear as important compositional devices – translated into paint but without eliminating the traces of reflection and decision making underneath. This is distinctly illustrated in Boulton’s painting Before Midday (2015), in which drawn and painted lines and areas of thin, glazed oil colour are seen to be laid down onto the supporting board in translucent layers. Each lightly covered line remains in evidence in the final painting, slowly revealing corrections and deliberations in Boulton’s active and additive process of constructing an image. Both Boulton and Holtom’s work express this similar energy. In Holtom’s work Swamp Legends (2015), she uses her signature technique of dropping threads picked from the warp and weft of the canvas to establish the skeletal form of the composition, which is then worked into with varying fleshy tones of paint to create complex, shifting organic shapes. Off Line/On Line presents a selection of works that feel as close to drawing as a means of thinking as they do strictly resolved paintings.
In both artists’ paintings we get a sense of concurrently looking down through the layered image, and looking across and into the paintings’ subjects. This awareness of multiple viewpoints is something we are becoming accustomed to in a world dominated by the consumption of images on a screen. In her essay In Free Fall: A Thought Experiment on Vertical Perspective Hito Steyerl discusses how our sense of spatial and temporal orientation has changed in recent years, incited by new technologies of surveillance and tracking. Steyerl attributes this to the growing prevalence of aerial views on screen, such as those from satellites and Google Maps; she refers to this ‘God’s-eye view’ as a new way of seeing that has started to replace linear perspective as the dominant paradigm of visuality. The overlapping panes of line and form in both Boulton and Holtom’s work reference our contemporary ways of viewing the world, but both artists reintroduce a more visceral experience of seeing through their material manipulation of paint, which embraces the spectrum of liquidity and dryness, opacity and translucence – at odds with the durable plastic of computer hardware and the brilliant glare of the computer monitor.
Off Line/On Line presents the two artists’ work in separate areas of the gallery. Holtom’s work, in particular, forms a series of impressive viewpoints in the exhibition space. Her largest canvases, at 185cm x 150cm, are the most immersive, enabling a more complete understanding of Holtom’s intense reworking and material interventions with the canvas. Boulton’s painted series are hung closely together, forming an intense arrangement of illuminated forms on black grounds, which reference both Dutch still lives and handheld, backlit devices. The titles of these paintings often reference points of the day or night, suggesting the passage of time in an unexplained narrative. Richard Serra’s declaration that ‘drawing is a verb, not a noun’, reinforces that drawing is a dynamic endeavour rather than a static, fixed activity. In Boulton and Holtom’s work the lingering presence of the drawn line also reminds us that painting is a temporal process. To perceive each image in Off Line/On Line fully takes a prolonged time: we are forced to slow down to enter the speed of each individual painting, thereby countering the velocity and ubiquity of the on line, digital image.