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Time passes and time passes, and time passes. Marie Claire Hamon’s paintings ask us to think in deeper and vaster scales of ecological time, place, and history. Zennor, where these paintings were created, is spatially and temporally weird. Occupying just a few miles of the southwest coastline, Zennor is a village that has only a church and pub, yet its natural grandeur of huge skies, hulking granite boulders crowning a great mountainous hill, and sweeping Bronze-age field systems that criss-cross down to the Atlantic Ocean, far transcends any cosy locality, reaching instead to the ancient and universal.

Few stretches of coastland can have compelled so many writers, artists and esoteric thinkers, from DH Lawrence, Patrick Heron and Bryan Wynter to the notorious, Aleister Crowley. Although elements of these work or thinking can be read in these paintings, such as the Wynter-like contour marks or symbols of a Lawrentian pantheism, she does not work in direct influence.  These are depictions of Zennor but spun through with a dream-like logic. The triangular landmass of Zennor Hill rises huge and triumphant with a mandala crown, a golden dog waits at the foot of a mountain and gnomic symbols float across the landscapes, so that the place is not rigidly defined, but rather composite and universal. Zennor is of course beautiful, but it is an idea of beauty being found in what is ungraspable, something at play in the place that evades capture.

Time passes and time passes, and time passes and the eye of the mountain witnesses it all. You will see this eye reoccurs throughout Hamon’s paintings. This is not the highly symbolic apotropaic eye seen in Greek depictions or the healing eye of Horus in Ancient Egyptian religion, it has none of those human, civilised connotations; it is simply an eye noticing. It has been noticing for millennia and will go on noticing. It noticed the first formations of a stream beginning to flow and build into a river, it noticed the black thorn bush warm into a white froth of blossom, it noticed hands reaching out to pick the berries, feet treading the paths, the drumming of hooves, great chanting burial ceremonies, the thud of early boundary lines being laid, the shudder of the first planes claiming the skies, lovers loving in the crags of the rocks and the huge granite heart of a logan stone beating on and on.

Hamon’s paintings ask us to think in vacillating scales from the colossus of mountains to the miniatures of finely wrought leaves and insects, not existing in hierarchies but on the same plane.  The religious iconography of a stained-glass window is given the same prominence as teenagers’ etched in graffiti, these are all just human markings, symbolic to us, but palling in significance to the monumental sweep of deep ecological time. When humans do appear in these paintings, they are wanderers, awe struck and enchanted by the trippy splendour of the natural world, as if seeing it for the first time because, they fear, in the face of the effects of climate change that they may be seeing it for the last time.

Hamon began working in her studio in Zennor in November 2020 and left in April 2023. Over the duration of making this body of work she made Zennor her ‘local patch’; a place that hummed for her with memories and knowing and her paintings conduit the seduction, the siren-song, that has beckoned so many to this small, wild stretch of moorland.

2 all the things we are  oil on canvas 125x124cm.jpg
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