Walking Through Beautiful

Revd. Dr. Richard Davey writes:

The girl looks up at the tree, to the bird that sits amongst its branches. They occupy the same world but seem separated by space and species. But then the bird sings, and a vibration starting within its chest and passing along invisible sound waves across the gap, pierces the girl to set off a corresponding vibration within her own body. A connection is made, the gap is bridged, and in a moment of wonder the girl experiences a sense of reverie; a feeling of at-oneness with the whole world as its solid boundaries fall away. A band of golden orange light opens up before her, piercing the fabric of reality and offering a glimpse through to something other.

It is these moments of reverie and wonder, when we are confronted by small incidents of beauty within the world, an unexpected bird, the play of light through branches, or their reflection on water, that form the focus of Lisa Wright’s paintings and drawings. Through vibrant blocks of colour and deftly drawn, dancing lines she draws these fleeting insubstantial sensations into the visible world, clothing them in human form even though they bring about the dissolution of its solid borders. In these moments the world opens up into an interconnected space, and we experience the knowledge that our body’s boundaries are porous membranes that allow for the constant flow and exchange of particles of matter and light. But how can this borderless body be represented? Wright’s figures seem to offer the opposite state of being, figures bounded by thick outlines that seem to keep the world out. But these outlines are too thick and too bold. Rather than defining the edge of the body they seem to obliterate it, erasing it with a indeterminate space that suggests the liminal, porous threshold that exists between the tightly packed atomic density of the body and the more widely spaced gap of the air that enfolds us.

Her paintings capture the experience of living in this liquid world. Her figures rarely have mouths, for as the solid world falls away, words, which so often divide and separate, fail. And these are experiences which leave us childlike, seeing the world afresh, as if newly born, rather than with the world weary eyes of adulthood. And when we live in a world without boundaries there is no need for clothes, which by their nature reinforce rather than release us from borders.

Each of these works is an individual entity, an object complete in its own right. But just as their subject matter is the breaking down of the world’s boundaries, so we can also see them together, forming part of an interconnected whole, each a different aspect that celebrates and investigates this experience, creating a storyboard of wonder. The moments when we seem to melt into the world, completely absorbed into its liquid embrace; the times when our senses are heightened and we seem to see with our whole bodies, and the occasions of intimacy when we sit with the one we love, wordless and in complete oneness.

These paintings and drawings are not illustrations of these experiences; instead they are their embodiment; the dragging of their intangible reality into the visibility of this world where we can recognize them and realise, that despite their individuality, they are encounters with the world we share with others. Where others can pierce the privacy of our feelings with their cries – ‘I’ve felt that’, ‘I’ve stood there’, ‘I’ve been lost like that’.


Dr Richard Davey is an internationally published author and freelance curator. A member of the International Association of Critics, he has written numerous titles for The Royal Academy of Arts, including the exhibition catalogue for the Anselm Kiefer show in 2014 and the 2015 Summer exhibiton catalogue. He is the co-ordinating Chaplain at Nottingham Trent University.

© copyright Richard Davey and Millennium Gallery, 2011


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