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Songs of Forgotten Places

Recent Drawings by Katie Trick

Port Talbot is one of those places, which, to many, is a point on a motorway. Driving from London back to Swansea, there are numerous points where I wonder about Slough, about Chippenham, about the outskirts of Newport, and what these places are to those who live there, who grew up there, who cherish the lives experienced there. The songs of forgotten places. The main perception of where Katie grew up and returned to after studying at Wimbledon, is what is seen as the M4 slows down to 50mph, the steel works to the left, the mountains to the right. There’s a great Tom Waits reading of a Bukowski poem which describes the beauty of a bus stop-over in a small town in North Carolina, the café, “and what if I just stayed here”. If we just stayed there, in this hitherto unknown town, receptive to its own and unique beauty. Katie knows this beauty deeply. Its beauty is not that of Venice or the Californian sweep of the Pacific, but one of a community grounded and united in its understanding of its location, and its place within the shifting, molten steel, of its own history.

I look at one of Katie’s oil pastel drawings on my wall. It feels like a visual transcript in allegro of a conversation between times. A central image attempting to be fixed, surrounded by the vigorous marks of the present thought, the present conversation which, in Katie’s practice, traces the route which will draw us in to the place remembered or observed. These glyphs of nervous instinct form a protective embrace, a Greek chorus singing and dancing the path to which the subject will show itself and be held in its most decisive moment. These marks have the raw physicality of late Picasso, unencumbered by tradition or good taste. Just felt, and all too human in the vulnerability and joy breathed in the same breath. They share the musicality of Klee, a symphony evolving through an instinctive understanding of rhythm, colour, and tone. They share the joy of Matisse dancing with scissors. These are works which are filled with the energy, the joy, the melancholy, of knowing how to sing the songs of life thrown at you.

Wales has always had a fine tradition of landscape painting imbued with a sense of history. Much of this has been inspired by the connection between the land and the culture which has sung and echoed around the mountains and the coastline, a shared connection which resonates with centuries of quiet choruses of rebellion and the ever-growing confident proclamation of a culture too often oppressed, and occasionally ravaged, by a powerful neighbour. Katie’s proclamations are of a more personal nature, but no less powerful. These magical pieces, through emotional excavation and its creative process, bring forth the presence of a place, with the unwritten melodies of the people who experienced it buried within them. They do not shout from the slated rooftops, they sing a quiet hymn of joy. The joy of feeling, of seeing, the stubborn beauty of a place which is shy of revealing itself. When it finally resists, it dances and becomes grateful that one of its daughters has been there to truly know its song.


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