We Want To Keep Dreaming
Marie-Claire Hamon’s exuberant, tangled forestscapes have at their core, the question, what does it mean for humans not to be at the centre of the universe? In exploring this question, Hamon’s paintings contribute to a developing imaginary of climate change in which the human and the non-human are intrinsically interconnected.
In developing her process of work, Hamon speaks of a suspension of mastery over her paint in favour of a fluidity in which the original marks collaborate freely with the painted surface. These are not paintings which have been gridded, fixed and formulated like agricultural landscapes but are rather allowed to flow, interconnect and grow again. Like the gardens at Tremenheere which invite us to wander through the luxuriant abundance of vegetation, Hamon’s paintings appear to point to landscapes as yet unravished by the human claim on natural resources, or conversely, like the dreamscapes of a future in which humans live in radical harmony, enmeshed in the ecology of the natural world.
Human forms appear in Hamon’s paintings but not as dominating figures that command and master, but rather as traces which extend both materially and ontologically into the environment. Across this collection of work, she reveals a network of forest activists, seeking to protect and promote the environment. As in her painting, entitled We are the Forest, human shapes are suggested in a formed chain around a tree, though painted with equal energetic tangled marks to the foliage so that they appear non-intrusively subsumed into the forest. In other paintings in this body of work the only indicators of human presence are stark flashes of colour, blues and pinks, suggesting makeshift human habitation; or humans are tiny, unobstrusive presences actively at play or clinging dependently to a tree in what Hamon terms, ‘benign collaboration’.
The subject of Climate Change is one that has become fraught and increasingly co-opted into the political sphere, seeming to exist in an ideological binary either for or against, believers or non-believers. Hamon’s work is instead inspired by a thoughtful, nuanced and hopeful new mode of ecological thinking, creating a harmony between the act of painting and finding meaningful connection with our love of nature. These vibrant paintings, which seem to hum, buzz, dance and sing with biological life, express this desire, this Want to Keep Dreaming of a radical co-existence within, rather than against, ecology.
Written by Layla Hamon
Image We are the forest