2014 by Jill McManners
Flowers of Basalt; Kaleidoscope, Mall Galleries
A badge is a not a postcard; but the way McManners has made badges of each of her Flowers of Basalt, is very much in the postcard spirit. The badges allow you to take a little image of the exhibition home, to pin on your wall or indeed on your bag or your jacket. The badges, like postcards, are little works of art in their own right. Flowers of Basalt runs alongside McManner’ solo exhibition Basalt, which presents her wonderfully textured watercolours inspired by the coastline of The Shiant Islands of the Outer Hebrides. Rock – the colour, texture, weathering and beauty of the material that builds our earth – is the subject of these vast paintings. Flowers of Basalt take textures and shapes from these and set them spinning in repetitive and brightly mounted prints, inspired by what are known as the ‘Flowers of Sulphur’. These are crystals that form from sulphurous volcanic vapours condensing on colder rock that, under a microscope, resemble flowers. Dianthus is the genus name of around 300 plant species, such as the Carnation and Sweet William. As deep and intense colour spreads inkily through the petals of Sweet William, McManners’ petals of 2.Dianthus are tinged with the intense pink and grey that dilutes through her rock faces. The tips of her jagged edged petals are flushed with a deep purple that runs in veins down the white face of the rock. These lines, repeated as each petal multiplies to complete the wheel, give McManners’ flowers a motion and energy that pushes them to move before our very eyes. As a kaleidoscope shrinks and grows in jewel-like patterns, the Flowers of Basalt dance to a music guided by McManners’ visual exploration of the various faces of rock. The large and bulbous shapes of the outer petals mesmerise like falling boulders, carrying our eyes with their constant and heavy rhythm to the centre, where small whirling shapes frame the epicentre of molten rock. The impact of all McManners’ flowers – large, as they are in print – is indeed that of a kaleidoscope, as they spin across the colours of the rainbow, each drawing on the intensity of McManners’ naturally inspired pattern and colour.