I’m always interested in gesture, and in the visceral. I’m trying to express something about both emotional experience and analytical understanding, usually, and so the physical act of painting is made under certain conditions, where I’m often in an intensely energised state but calm at the same time. It’s about the quality of connection between mind and body. I’m sort of fizzing away at a cellular level when I’m painting. My work is an ongoing open-ended experiment in how to convert experience into an image, and the experience I’m interested in is one of dynamic conflict. In Jungian terms, you’d call that coniunctio, the collision of opposites, as contained in deities from many cultures: life-giving and yet wrathful, harmony and chaos in synergetic relationship. The themes are usually psychological and relational, and I’m often working from two opposing positions, alternating between them, throughout the making of a painting. This is partially a way for me to try and come to terms with and understand the immense capacity of humans for both good and evil. Irreconcilable opposites. And somehow being able to accept both polarities. At the moment I’m getting increasingly interested in what it means for something to be perceived as beautiful, and noticing as well that often quite disastrous events can have an element of the sublime, depending on where you’re standing – like the burning of Notre Dame, or the efflorescence that plants can emit when in the last throes of dying. Or gallows humour, which I think we may soon need quite a lot of, as we seem to be standing on the brink of the destruction of the world as we have known it.
Ruth Calland lives and paints in London, completed her MA at Chelsea School of Art, and is a Jungian analyst. Selected for the New Contemporaries and twice for the Marmite Prize for Painting, she is a prize-winner of the CGP London Annual Open, and has shown widely including at Transition Gallery, Studio 1.1, Three Colts, L-13, Flowers Gallery, and in CBP shows in China, Poland, Norwich and London. Her painting and curating practice has extended into multi-media live painting performances in collaboration with other artists and musicians, in conjunction with Folkestone Triennial, Hastings Museum and Art Gallery, Vestry House Museum and others. She has been a Boise Scholar, and won a Fellowship in Painting at GLOSCAT, Cheltenham. Ruth has taught widely at British art schools including Wimbledon, Coventry and Chelsea, and at the Camden Arts Centre. She is a recipient of grants from The Arts Council, The Henry Moore Foundation, and the London Borough of Culture 2019, amongst others.