Sophie Herxheimer

Sophie Herxheimer brings her customary energy to these new collages, which fuse her precision with colour and composition with her continuing fascination with poetry, and her own writing. The series she has made in ‘ghost collaboration’ with American poet Emily Dickinson, pictures the reclusive female poet as having a vast inner landscape, mirroring her emotional range, by using cut up duotone tourist photographs of the Alps. Herxheimer has then written poems into these imaginary worlds: placing words on oversized raindrops, surreal advertising hoardings, or in sampler-like sewn on patches from a shared girl-scholar’s trousseau. The thoughts are distilled and integrated, at home in the rocks, clouds, blossom, mountains, ready to be absorbed by the wandering viewer’s mind. These works spring from the artist’s readings of Dickinson but the images and poems are all Herxheimer’s own. Parallel to these pieces, Herxheimer has created a series of collages without text, which relate to Fairy Tale. We see a lone female figure walking on a mountain ridge amongst stone pots and pans, while below her in the valley a chalice sits glowing with the golden elixir of life. She may never come across it. In another, the Goose Girl stands, transparent in pencil, still exchanging stories with the decapitated horse she used to ride as a princess. The works often feature two characters, suggesting inner dialogue: the artist in conversation with the gigantic crow that rules her from within, the artist negotiating with all the artists of the past, with planets made of glue, with politics and expectations. These collages show the strangeness of the ordinary, the journey we are all on; using playful tropes like improbable scale, words that run counter to image, anti-naturalistic colour, to subvert logic and invite the imagination into bread, daisy, street. To Emily Dickinson I too am stuck Indoors Emily – with only my Fly-like Buzz – but I stumble – on this Alpine album Emily – and it reminds me of your Emotional Scale– A Party at a Silent Table For Scalpel – Needle – Shadow Daisies – Sepia Glacier – Bonnet flung down. A Bird lights on this Loaf Picks at Words to Swell Poems. Your Candle – accompanies the Sun – Sophie Herxheimer About the Joint exhibition with Gigi Sudbury: Meeting and talking about painting and poetry with Gigi was an enormous and inspiring treat. We both relish the sheer aliveness of making things - and guarding their aliveness in the process, aiming for what we create to contain and emit energy for all to feel and see. We both use sensory palettes of colour, texture, line and rhythm to show worlds that are real but pushed to revealing their heightened qualities. We both use our domestic lives as springboards for art and thinking: milking the imagination and ideas that sprout and thrive on the herb scented mountains and tiger strewn jungles of the kitchen table. Gigi is a real painter, and understands that in order to make a painting that is alive, one must listen to what the paint itself tells you, and not try to corral it into the gulag of hard work, convention - or other areas of potential dullness. I found it so exciting to connect across the sometimes too naturalistally painted stretch from South London to Dorset, and find a kindred spirit for whom every aspect of art was a rich subject, and I hope to learn more from her about how to paint, because she is one of the few people who knows.