Ben Jamie: And Other Withered Stumps of Time

13 May - 19 June 2021

Monomyth: A hero ventures forth from the world of the common day into a region of supernatural wonder where reality and fantasy intertwine: fabulous forces are there encountered and a decisive victory is won.

Look, there he is!

That guy rarely seen since the school trip to Tate Britain during the dial up years. An heroic out of work 18th century icon, rediscovered in a coffee shop coffee table book in 21st century Fish Island. A readymade ready to be re-made.A hero for hire cast as lead Nightwatch Man in the monomythical foothills of Zornland.

The setting is stately enough—think muzak rendition of Jerusalem played on a baby grand piano, think double wing install of heritage building, think velvet flocked cobalt wallpaper. Yet somehow it’s all uneasy. In amongst the weave of the flax there’s a slant that dodges affectation. Stay long enough and you’ll discover bubblegum stuck between the Steinway’s ivories and the gallery’s night sky serenity will intensify, as if obsessively scribbled in by the ink of six billion biro pens.

All is not as it seems in Zornland, that’s why the Nightwatch man has been employed. A rock steady hand who has witnessed all the prophesier’s sandwich board slogans before. The Nightwatch Man is timeless. He roams the stretchers freely, shapeshifting through figuration to abstraction, from Inferno to Paradise. High on his horse one moment and beard deep in the abyss the next.

Who knows the reason for the Nightwatch Man’s watchfulness? He’s Sasquatch secretive, camouflaged by the terrain of his habitat. Look to his surroundings: Track his turpsy scent. Pick sable hog hair from Poison Trees. Get hands on oil scat deposits. The rocky vistas of Zornland are lit by a Blood moon that refracts rainbows of ivory black, cadmium red, yellow ochre and titanium white. And that light penetrates everywhere, like the rust of a razor nick in the shower.

Reality fades in. Reality fades out.

The Nightwatch Man understands the cyclical nature of the hero’s journey. He’s comfortable in the Whales Belly, sitting it out, sifting through stumps of time, awaiting metamorphosis and discovery of another Ultimate Boon.

Text by David Northedge