Helle Cook’s Notion of Home

Notion of Home by Helle Cook (Source: QCA Galleries)
Notion of Home by Helle Cook (Source: QCA Galleries)

One of the themes that I’m exploring in Rosslyn Redux is what I’ve loosely termed the archeology of home. It’s a misnomer really, an imperfect vessel that I settled on in the earliest days of renovation. Although my method was anything but scientific, I was mostly fascinated with the relics and artifacts we’d inherited. And before long new artifacts were being — in some cases quite literally — being disinterred. I was trying to decipher the practical and historic and aesthetic puzzle of an almost two century old property.

Soon the puzzle pieces included stories, memories, and anecdotes gathered from the people I met and recorded histories I read. As I sought to weave these various threads into a tapestry of sorts, I inevitably (and imperceptibly at first) began to insert my own wonders and hypotheses. Hopes. Confabulations. What-ifs…

Notion of Home by Helle Cook (Source: www.hellecook.com)
Notion of Home by Helle Cook (Source: www.hellecook.com)

And soon enough my own meditations on home, my own rucksack of patinated, nostalgia-filtered experiences began to infiltrate the tapestry.

My archeology of home had evolved into a wide-ranging contemplation of home-ness. So much more than a dwelling place, “home” is a psychologically complex and, I’ve come to believe, a profoundly important concept. I’m still trying to unpackage it, but my process has shifted somewhat from the more intentional, methodical, even quasi-scientific approach of my earliest inquiry toward the lyrical.

And so it is that I lament being unable to attend artist Helle Cook’s exhibition, Notion of Home, opening two weeks from tomorrow in Brisbane, Australia at the Project Gallery (QCA South Bank Campus).

Here’s what the gallery has to say about the show.

Balancing on the threshold of abstraction and figuration, Helle Cook uses painting as language to investigate a sense of home identity… In ethereal, bold fields of colour emerges a sense of imagination and memory. Eschewing traditional and inflexible notions of “home”, Cook’s concept of plurality opens spaces of multiple perspectives within and in between, and fuels a quest for multifaceted exploration. (Source: QCA Galleries)

This language, both verbal (“a sense of home identity”) and visual, resonates with my own personal investigation despite the fact that Helle Cook’s search appears to be more focused on geographic/cultural places (i.e. Denmark, Australia, and the interstices). I’ve cast around often enough for a better alternative to “archeology” for explaining my quest, but I’ve come up short. Perhaps I’ve been looking in the wrong place(s).

Notion of Home by Helle Cook (Source: www.hellecook.com)
Notion of Home by Helle Cook (Source: www.hellecook.com)

What defines the notion of home?

This is what Danish-born, Brisbane-based artist Helle Cook investigates in her painting practice… Drawing on interior and exterior monologues, Cook’s paintings explore home, identity, connection, culture and memories. Intuitive and imaginative, her work is an experimentation into the cognitive neuroscience of creativity, engaging both sensory and episodic memory to allow the paint to take agency. (Source: Cultural Flanerie)

Wow! Did you get all of that? Reread. Re-wow.

Let’s turn to the artist herself.

I use painting to investigate the notion of home… Is home a feeling. A sense of being present. Or does it connect us to particular place. A home with interior. Is home where we were born, where we live, can it be more places and anywhere in the world. And how is home connected to our identity and the sense of belonging. From the perspective that home is all of that and most of all a space in between, I explore the duality of my Danish background and my Australian life as an artist recreating my identity. In a space in between. With memories of the past, a sense of the present and ideas of the future, I create internal and external landscapes and fairy-scapes, symbols, nature, figures, creatures and objects of culture and design. I use my intuition, imagination and the slow process of painting to take agency. Creating the sense of belonging in a Space in Between. Home. (Source: Helle Cook)

Notion of Home by Helle Cook (Source: Cultural Flanerie)
Notion of Home by Helle Cook (Source: Cultural Flanerie)

Yes, “the notion of home” is precisely what I’ve been grappling with. It’s bigger than archeology, or different, despite that the reference served well initially.

I’ve discovered that identity and belonging are indeed intricately intertwined with the notion of home. Like Ms. Cook I find myself on an exploration of both internal and external artifacts, identities, terrains, narratives, and memories. And I’m increasingly discovering that my purposes are best served with a mix of inquiry (objective and subjective), imagination, and creative freedom.

Even this quick glimpse into Cook’s work has inspired me onward. Onward!

About virtualDavis

A writer, storyteller and unabashed flâneur, George Davis (aka virtualDavis or G.G. Davis, Jr.) is the author of Rosslyn Redux: Reawakening a home, a dream and ourselves, a transmedia chronicle about rehabilitating an historic property in the Adirondacks with his bride. He blogs about storytelling, poetry, doodling, marginalia, flânerie, publishing, and other creativity-inspired esoterica at virtualDavis.com; posts sometimes exhilarating, often unnerving, occasionally euphoric, and always pollyanna "midlife mashups" at 40x41.com; chronicles his sailing adventures (and misadventures) at Sailing Errant; and delves into matters of parenting, babylandia, and childfreedom at Why No Kids? George formerly taught and coached at Santa Fe Preparatory School and The American School of Paris, and he co-founded and launched Maison Margaux: "Paris à la parisienne" in Faubourg Saint-Germain. He currently owns and operates Adobe Oasis in Santa Fe, New Mexico with his bride. George meanders on Twitter, Facebook, Google+, Pinterest, YouTube and Flickr.
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