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Rita Kermack

Artist Biography

My work is concerned with the edge of our island as a place where land and sea interact. This space is called the littoral or intertidal zone. It is an environment of extremes. Only highly specialised life-forms can survive with the high salt levels, being submerged under water and then completely dry again for several hours each day. Weather conditions can have a detrimental effect on the land, flora, fauna and human habitation. Continuous erosion and sedimentation mean that the coast is in a constant state of flux. I am attracted to the idea of erasure and over-writing in these ever changing, often called ‘palimpsest’ landscapes. The metaphor derives from ancient manuscripts that were scraped down and reused over and over again. Traces of older layers are visible on the current surface. Similarly, our landscapes reveal traces of a multitude of layers. These layers may have been built up over millennia or during a single high tide. My work is informed by the geology, habitats, organisms, shapes and patterns of the littoral zone. Based on fieldwork gathered along our coastline, I create abstract landscapes by mapping ecosystems such as estuaries, rockpools and cliffs, emphasizing the flow of water, movement of organisms and the rhythm of the tide. Although painting is at the centre of my practice, I explore a variety of processes and materials to express my ideas. The strong and rigid materiality of copper contrasts with the delicate nature of the rice paper used in most of my pieces. The process of corrosion mirrors the geomorphological changes in the landscape. The patterns created on the copper relate closely to those on the monoprints which form the basis for my paintings. Because the marks are made by nature, i.e., chemical reactions there is an apt lack of control on my part as the artist The intertidal zone is a fragile, transient space. Rising sea levels and pollution pose a severe threat to habitats and their ecosystems. Through mapping, visually reconstructing habitats and recording my holistic experiences, I am attempting to create a sense of place in my work, which will help myself and the viewer to understand the vulnerability of our environment and form a connection to the ecology of the chosen locations.

Selected Exhibitions