MAstars 2012: Peta-Stacy Wainwright, MA Fine Art
Peta-Stacy Wainwright, Vicissitude, 2012. Photographic images. Credit: Richard Utting
Harriet Loffler selects Peta-Stacy Wainwright from Norwich University College of the Arts for MAstars
'Untitled (Bifurcation)' (2012) is an installation of two parts. A circular image of a landscape is suspended in the corner of the gallery. It has a faded, scratchy appearance; the absence of identifiable landmarks or characteristics makes it hard to locate - the low hills and far off horizon give little away. Below sits a round patch of turf populated with strands of wild grass. The two parts are not taken from the same landscape. The wild grasses are from Norfolk whilst the photograph was taken by the artist’s mother on first arriving in South Africa some thirty years ago.
Peta-Stacy Wainwright, Untitled (Bifurcation), 2012. Digital image on aluminium composite with grass. Credit: courtesy of Norwich University of the Arts
The two elements of the work, although not obviously connected, have profound associations for the artist. At the age of seventeen and as a result of the escalating violence in South Africa, she moved with her immediate family to the Norfolk coast, a place her English mother always knew as home. The transition to this new country left a feeling of acute displacement. The homeland was now out of reach and the inherited context felt deeply unfamiliar. 'Untitled (Bifurcation)' contains ideas around the ‘here and now’ in the living, breathing piece of land and the irresistible allure of the ‘left behind’.
The oscillation between rootedness and longing for an elsewhere is at the heart of Wainwright’s work. Nostalgia can sometimes slip into sentimentality but this installation remains alert to the self-deceptions of memory. The photograph of the landscape is in the shape of a camera viewfinder – a reminder of the contrivance and complexity of our relationship with places.
This exploration continues in 'Vicissitude' (2012). For this work the artist discovered a series of photographs taken from the same family album which she recreated as negatives on her enlarger. The images are reversed, leaving a negative impression of the landscape. The results resemble moonscapes in their darkness and mottled appearance. Wainwright’s re-imagining of these images shows us the difficulties of reconciling the place that surrounds us with the one from whence we came.
Selected by Harriet Loffler
Published November, 2012
About Harriet Loffler
Harriet Loffler is Curator of Modern & Contemporary Art at Norwich Castle. Recent shows include an exhibition of work by French artist, Hubert Duprat and Family Matters, a national touring exhibition. Harriet is also responsible for artist residencies, public programmes and the development of Norwich Castle’s contemporary collection. Before joining Norwich Castle, Harriet worked at Frieze Art Fair and MoMA in New York. Harriet has an MA in Curating Contemporary Art from the RCA in London.