25 Nov - 20 Dec 2015


WARREN VANCE | Hold On Artist Statement, 2015

O Rosalind! These trees shall be my books. And in their bark my thoughts I’ll character. - Act 3, scene 2 As You Like It. William Shakespeare

The inscriptions and images carved on trees are called an Aboroglpyhs, and are practices dating back through the centuries making numerous appearances throughout Pastoral literature and Renaissance painting traditions of the 1600’s.

A lot of this material involves the entwined pledges of lovers amongst nature or a solitary lover lamenting the absence of a beloved, or a pledging wish of consummation. I recall a time when as a kid and having a pocket knife was commonplace thing; and to at least attempt such a thing at least once though it was a given seeing that the utilitarian function of the knife was not to be confused with its contrary, a benign instrument of violence.

In recent times news of stabbings surface with prevalent regularity in the media, though in contrast as a youth the only stabbing I ever knew about or really remember was in watching a lyrical Shakespeare play “Romeo and Juliet”, that in which tragedy occurs when Romeo stabs Tybalt in the city square, or in Juliet’s pursuance of a love pact in suicide.

“In Ariosto’s influential Orlando Furioso, Angelica and Medoro inscribe their paired names on trees, when the carvings are discovered by the eponymous hero, who is in love Angelica it sends his descent into madness”. – Dr Leah Knight.

I have deployed the use of the Hans Arp like Rock Climbing Holds as a lofty metaphor and as measure to the difficulty of lovers obtaining such heights of true love. The uplifting spontaneity, difficulty of ascent, the positional strategy, and the dangerous step by step stages of personally enacted vulnerability or the sheer disaster of falling. Like the trait of Shakespeare where love and sex and death are inextricably intertwined, these photos were taken in parks in Melbourne, Adelaide and Sydney where some carvings may be several decades old, disappearing to the ravages of time and sharing a similar passing fate to those who carved them, eventually re-consumed back into nature.