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The Quadrupeds, Background and exegesis

This series grew over the period of some three years, to encompass the form that it has taken here. Initially it was a one drawing attempt to incorporate the legs from the IMAGER logo (A reworking of the image found on the Witham Shield) onto the body of a human female. From this grew the desire to develop the work into a society of these individuals - all similar, but each unique.

To study and categorize the Quadrupeds using the standard methods of scientific investigation re biological studies, forms a good portion of the work. The markings and colouration paintings echo 19th century studies. They do this for a very specific reason. That being the faintly archaic flavour imparted by the drawing style. I wish here to pull the series away from what could be termed ‘fantasy art’. I have no desire to provide covers for fantasy / science fiction novels through this body of work. It is for this reason that all photographs in the series will be sepia toned, and all paintings will build off the landscape painting of an earlier era. This naturally conflicts with the modern biologist and her tools of the trade, such as the radio tracking collar. The tension inherent here, is important to the functioning of the body of work as a whole. The dichotomy is a buffering agent, situating the piece in an unspecified time frame.

I do not expect that this body of work will garner favourable criticism. It may be looked upon as a de-humanizing effort. The general population and interest groups within that population will almost certainly express offense at the work. If the work looks de-humanizing on the surface , it is not. Rather I strive here to place the human animal back within the confines of Nature. The Quadrupeds are part of the natural (wild) world and as such live in harmony with it. Amongst them are no developers, politicians or evangelists. I base as a start-point the assumption that we too are animals. We have however distanced ourselves from the natural world, and in that lies the source of all our current troubles. The Quadrupeds are an attempt to find a way back.

A differentiation exists between the males and females of the species. The males are solitary and have therefore little impact within the work. It will be noted however that the lone male is ‘suppressed’ by the situations in which it appears. An analogy mayhap for the fate of the male of the human species.

On the other hand the female Quadruped acts in the role of ‘the Wild Woman’, able to traverse the space between the wilderness and civilization. She is truly the one who straddles the fence. She may be the final form of the flying, shape shifting witch, the wise women of our collective unconscious. In her sphere it is natural that the male have little presence. She is in herself complete, a synthesis of all that is both human and animal.

The female Quadruped may ingest Datura, Henbane and Belladonna in the wilds. She is a seer and a mythic presence; one who might bring either the best or worst of fortune to those whom she chooses to encounter her. That encounter is, as stated, of her choice. The casual observer will never come into contact with a female Quadruped. Signs of her passing may be noted however, by those who have the eyes to see.

The question remains then, as to whether the Biologist is simply that, or much more. She is mayhap the poet, artist and shaman, intent upon the discovery of creation itself.: one striving to align herself with the invisible inner country which surrounds us all. In light of this, the Quadrupeds must exist in ‘places of power’. If this piece were to be done in Britain, ley line intersections and by extension the sites of stone circles would be natural places of encounter. Here in North America, sacred Native American sites would provide a proper location - but there are other places open to those sensitive enough to read the signs. That is the reason that the pendulum is the most important tool of the biologist.

How does one call in a Quadruped? The hunter may resort to traditional bone calls when hunting wild turkey, and there exist a myriad of devices to call in any oft-hunted animal. Our biologist is in need of a tool: that tool must by necessity be a Shamanic device - stone bone and skin, natural materials, used in a natural way. Mayhap a bull-roarer would suffice, or a variant of the wing bone turkey call. Would a skin drum work, beaten with a bone drum stick? (Human leg bone, perhaps) A dew claw rattle, or perhaps a bladder-bag filled with the seeds of Datura. Much research here is needed. The question is one involving a physical act, and the tool must fit the desire. As the Quadruped is akin to the Boar, sacred Celtic animal and sacred also to the White Goddess - parts of the tool must be made from the domesticated hog. Rabbits, hounds and ravens also figure in the ancient equation. Mayhap each of these animals must donate a piece of their anatomy in the context of the making of the call. The biologist therefore is obliged to create the music of the wild in her quest for the sighting of a Quadruped. The hunter may also work with scent. Doe urine draws a buck. Does the same work for the Quadruped? Methinks perhaps, if the biologist is willing to mark territory. This all depends upon the strength of her conviction and the need within her to encounter the thing she hunts. She may perhaps pour the urine of a captive male Quadruped on a scrape - that surely would elicit a response from the elusive female of the species. Using her own urine might elicit a better response. It is possible that the disembodied ‘leg’ of a Quadruped, drawn between the legs of the biologist and then rubbed on the stems of wild grasses or the trunks of small trees would also succeed in flushing a Quadruped from cover. Again research is key to the success of the venture. We move here through uncharted territory. The biologist must be made of stern stuff indeed.

How much of this research comes to the presentation of the work remains questionable. There is no need to explore the entire field within the context of this one particular exhibition. Things could be left to the sensibilities of the location wherein the piece is presented. I will stress however that all of the component parts will be completed as a major work. Where it actually goes from there is essentially up to the winds of fate and the open nature of the place it is exhibited.