The World Without Us

Deborah Westmancoat

Deborah Westmancoat is a British contemporary painter based in Somerset, UK. She has a long term interest in alchemy and the philosophical sciences and how they help us to understand landscape and our place within it, particularly how the traditionally held metaphysical stages of alchemy: nigredo (blackness), albedo (whiteness), citrinitas (yellowing) and rubredo (redness) might appear within the natural environment.

Paintings begin in the quiet places where these stages become apparent and are made as a direct result of first hand experience within the landscape. Samples of site and weather specific waters – flood, rain, hailstones, dew, frost and snow melt – are collected and combined with ink and locally found elements to record the peculiarities, mysteries and attitudes of water held within the British landscape, particularly around the South West of England.

Informed by local flooding, recent works focused on a visual understanding of nigredo, the dark, formless first state of alchemy, as experienced through the element of water. Paintings became experiments in understanding the nature of immersion, how to lose oneself in the work and absent oneself from the outcome. As part of the making process, panels were repeatedly immersed in black writing ink and local flood waters. Each time the previous story was washed away and a new story ‘written’ upon the surface. These durational works were an attempt to understand the nature of beginnings, of how the movement of water can alter the ‘known’ over time, and how our psyche is affected by the temporary loss of the familiar in our environment.

Current paintings investigate the second stage of alchemy, albedo, introducing the transformational action of albedic light and order. Particular virtues and qualities of form and light observed within streams, icicles, hoar frost and hailstorms have been the catalyst for new works which use collected samples of each to express the inherent beauty and dynamism of water in these specific places and forms.

 
 

Deborah Westmancoat

At the Edge of Where We’d Like To Be 1 (2015)
Black writing ink, handmade oak gall ink and stream water
(collected from a tributary of the Larriggan River, Newlyn, Cornwall)

 
 

Deborah Westmancoat

Pale Forms (2016)
Black writing ink, handmade oak gall ink and rainwater collected from a natural depression in a fallen stone in the South-Eastern quarter of Avebury stone circle, Wiltshire, on board.

 
 

Deborah Westmancoat

The World Without Us (2016)
Black writing ink, Indian ink and a frozen puddle
collected from Dead Woman’s Ditch, Quantock Hills, Somerset on board.

 
 

Deborah Westmancoat

Glacial Melt (2017)
Black writing ink, handmade oak gall ink and water
collected by Nicki Heenan from the base of Corvatsch Glacier, St Moritz, Switzerland, on canvas board.

 
 

Deborah Westmancoat

White Field and Hailstorm 2 (2015)
Black writing ink, water (collected during hailstorm in Bishops Hull, Taunton, October 2014), and white acrylic ink on board.

 
 

Deborah Westmancoat

North (2016)
Black writing ink, handmade oak gall ink and water collected on the turning of an incoming tide at Cowbar, North Yorkshire, on board. Box framed in white wood and non reflective glazing.

 
 

Deborah Westmancoat

Umidus (2017)
Black writing ink, handmade oak gall ink, winter hailstones and storm water
(collected by Rebecca Fisk in Taunton, Somerset) on heavyweight paper.

 
 

Deborah Westmancoat

White Field #1 (2017)
Black writing ink, handmade oak gall ink, hailstones, frost and two frozen puddles
collected from Longrun Meadows, Taunton, Somerset on board.

 
 

Part of The Learned Pig’s Wolf Crossing editorial season, spring/summer 2017.

 
 

The Learned Pig

Deborah Westmancoat

Deborah Westmancoat is an award winning British contemporary artist based in Somerset, UK. Her interest lies in understanding landscape and our place within it. Site and weather specific waters are collected and combined with pigment to record the energy, poetry and mystery of bodies of water held within the land. She was selected for Bloomberg New Contemporaries in 2014 and is a Royal West of England Academy Artist Network member. Work is exhibited frequently throughout the UK and internationally and has been featured in many publications, including Internationale Kunst Heute, Vogue, Fresh Paint International and Arte Britanico Contemporaneo 2015.