Stuart Calvin: All of These Songs are About Dying
‘This body of work is rooted in grief and speaks of my struggle to come to terms with the loss of my mother, and the lengths I would go to feel her presence again.’
All of These Songs are About Dying is a new solo exhibition of work by Stuart Calvin, shaped by death and the transformative nature of grief. Often, in times of crisis, we feel driven to seek comfort or affirmation through ideas and philosophies that are intangible and ultimately indefinable: part therapy, part eulogy … and part magic.
The law of thermodynamics states that energy cannot be created or destroyed. When we die, the energy and atoms that make up our physical bodies simply take on new forms. The ideologies behind practices such as witchcraft, voodoo and magic declare that energy present in the human body and in the world around us, can be altered to our will through the applied use of objects, rituals, and meditation practices.
Calvin’s practice has long explored belief systems, new age ideologies, superstitions, and theories of consciousness in his work. He is interested in the visual languages inherent in these ideologies and what they subconsciously communicate.
With a fresh urgency, his work has evolved to become a mechanism in understanding and communicating his own existential insecurities and his fears for others. For this exhibition, he has embarked on creating work that draws on rituals and the metamorphosis of materials and meaning.
Calvin’s alchemic art, like magic, is a search for meaning, truth and discovery. It not only develops our connection with the physical world – the world of matter, objects, and images – but the creation of a new language for us to find meaning from loss.
Denial and bargaining are understood as two of the five stages of grief, and, as the artist acknowledges: ‘there are few lengths you wouldn’t go to, to reconnect with your loved one. To have the chance of one last conversation is an utterly seductive idea’.
Stuart Calvin lives and works in Belfast. He holds a BA and MA in Fine Art from Belfast School of Art. He is a founding member of Pollen Studios and is currently a studio-holder at Flax Artist Studios.