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THE SHORT ONE (Also known as the formal one, for those boring enough to enjoy art jargon)

 

Bianca Hendicott is a multidisciplinary artist and poet who lives in Surrey where she teaches. She has an MA in Fine Art (D) and an Honours Degree in Literature. Her first body of work centred on the ephemeral nature of light in physics and photosynthesis, along with a fascination for the botanical reproductive system.

Her more recent work explores cultural heritage and autobiography through painting (oils and watercolour), textiles, sculpture and illustrated poetry. Key themes address issues such as race, culture and the feminine.

She has also been involved in a series of commissions on more traditional topics such as Sardinia, animals, women bathing and still life. Having grown up on the coast of South Africa, she still feels a tug towards the African landscape and in particular the sea, where she spent a considerable amount of time with her grandfather as a child, exploring and drawing sea creatures with an almost dissecting quality.

There is an overarching focus on colour and form in all her pieces which express dreamlike landscapes and even terrifying nightmares.

 

THE 'OTHER' ONE (most likely taking place in my head)

 

I can’t stop. It could be ADHD or it could be some crazy drive to create. I am happiest when I am merging some weird conceptual idea with something practical – like painting or making. I make because it is my meditation. Colour is a thing. Trust Matisse. I also write - mostly poetry - because it can be more instant like a framed piece on a page.

I grew up in a crazy beautiful place called South Africa. Its juxtapositions have given me an endless source of inspiration for my art. That and the fact that I am female. Endless I tell you … endless.

 

THE LONG ONE (you were warned)

 

My research began with an exploration of light and the sublime within the botanical aesthetic but has evolved into something more cultural, representative, and perhaps even autobiographical. Using flowers as symbols and a sign of colonial ‘cultivation’, I am exploring the tense and dynamic relationships across cultures but most specifically in South Africa (where I grew up) and the United Kingdom (some of my ancestral links). I am particularly interested in the diaspora within colonial and post-colonial frameworks and the issues of identity associated with this. I am discovering these cultural tensions and patterns through botanical mapping and symbolism such as the Protea (national flowers) as well as maps, craft and photography. My techniques employ digital design, craft, beading, painting, drawing, film and even installation.

What really struck me about flowers and the Victorian plant hunters, was at the same time as botanical collections of species were being archived and recorded, so too were geographical maps of territories being created and sliced up for colonial empires; classifications of people according to colonial viewpoints and racist tracings as well as the often misguided drawing of territorial borders have led to endless tensions and discrimination. Having a mixed heritage myself, allows me to look for instance at the cultivation of the land, in forms which may appear innocuous, such as the Victorian garden, but clearly have a cultural imprint.

Flowers are also the biological sex organs of the plant and an expression of nature. Flowers are sensual and often fragrant. The flower is fragile, organic and opposed to what is mechanical and artificial. They are signifiers of everything from The Virgin Mary to femininity to death. Flowers bought and sold are even a symbol of the global capitalist garden, masking a superior narrative about globalisation and the blurring of national borders.

My observation of the flower is in many respects still life because I am capturing posed flesh. The iPhone with its microscopic ‘eye’ sends digital images via light sensors and the whole process from eye (artist) to eye (flower) to eye (iPhone lens) to eye (viewer) is a transference of light. Helen Chadwick referred to similar tools in her work as her ‘optical prostheses’. (Ed.Chalmers, G.1996.p13) which in some respects links the feminine aspect of the flowers to something quite scientific, almost medical. The probing lens that inserts itself into the flower centre is akin to invasive vaginal surgical instruments such as the speculum, an emotive appreciation for the botanical memory, the sexualised botanical charge and of course the creative essence of light, both in reproduction and photosynthesis. The flesh-like nature of the flower explores not only the associated metaphors of life and death and the cultural implications of the flower and even its ‘fruit’; but also connotations like the Garden of Eden, Hieronymus Bosch’s ‘Garden of Earthly Delights’, femininity, floriography, funeral or wedding bouquets, romance,  sin, nature, temptation, sexual difference and guilt.

But I am forever newly inspired so I am certain that by the time someone reads this I will be grappling with a new concept for there is so much more to make....

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