“And I can’t wait to see this dream in which I’ll be a child again and

feel happy again because everything will be still ahead, everything will be possible.”

-Andrei Tarkovsky-

CAN09 = Contemporary Art Norwich 09 = The art festival I walked around in Norwich the failed bike adventure day.  It was at multiple venues across the city so a perfect catalyst for exploring.

My favorite exhibit was photographic works by Norfolk-based artist Frances Kearney.  One author describes her work in relation to film director Tarkovsky:  “The notion of finding sanctuary in nature has echoes in the films of the Russian director Andrei Tarkovsky whose characters frequently escape the city to find solace in the landscape.…Kearney and Tarkovsky are asking questions about the role played by the country in relation to the city.  On a more fundamental level, they are also exploring the degree to which solace is linked to time and place.”


Here’s how a festival brochure describes her work:  “These fictitious, carefully constructed, large-scale colour photographic tableaux explore the idea of finding sanctuary  in nature during childhood.  The works consider how notions of fear and anxiety are often projected by the adult viewer onto the subjects, yet absent in the experience of the girls depicted.”

The title of this series was inspired by Ernest Hemingway’s short story The Big Two Hearted River; returning from war to find his village dstroyed, Nick seeks solace in fishing for trout.  When Kearney returned in 2006 to live in her childhood home, she realised how important the landscape was to her sense of well-being.

Kearney says:  “A few months after returning, I realised that it was “the edge” I had longed for:  the point where the land meets the water, in this case, the sea.  I have realised that living by water is immensely important to me as is the open sky, space and freedom for one’s soul that this region provides.’

Yeah,  I ate this up.


“Clearly the images have been created rather than captured; instead of lying in wait for the ‘decisive moment’…Kearney plans and deliberates; these are not split-second responses to fleeting moments…her images occupy the present tense of paintings, in which the moment is extended into an endless continuum.  Because of their beauty, clarity and intensity, her images are often compared with film, but these narratives unfold only in the imagination…as viewers, this gives us the chance, deliciously, to indulge our longing for beauty and desire for meaning.”  (Sarah Kent)


Kearney took the photos in her native Norfolk’s broads.  Ironically, the setting is where I was to have been cycling that day, so at least I got to see what I was missing.  Which might have looked something like this:


“Can solace be sought, or must one lie in wait for it?  As a state of mind, maybe it can be accessed anywhere and, if this is the case, perhaps the children in these complex multi-layerd photographs provide some sort of key to its attainment.”  (Kent)