Rowan Corkill / The Seeker
Rowan Corkill is a Scottish artist who has exhibited nationally and internationally with solo shows In the UK, Italy and Canada. He works within various artistic fields including sculpture, drawings, performance, photography, sound and taxidermy.
Corkill’s work is created from a deep ethnological fascination with various cultural, religious and occult beliefs, many of which are founded on a strong connection with nature. He uses his practice as a means to explore and examine endless belief systems, mythologies and ideologies created by mankind; questioning whether the modern world can learn from past ideas in order to regain our connection with nature and planet earth.
Do you feel more like a creator of new mythologies, or like an observer of “human and animal” behaviors and a philosopher?
Mankinds increasingly distant relationship to nature and other animals has always been the main observation of my work. As a species we hold ourselves with such high regards whilst disregarding the importance of everything else around us. With the population of humans increasing at such a high rate it is inevitable that other species will be effect by our presence on the planet. I use my practice as a means of acknowledging the importance of nature and other animals, whilst also emphasising the destructive behaviours of mankind.
Mythologies play a huge part in my work because they depict the relationship that mankind has had with nature over the centuries and how much that has changed with time. It shows us the powerful significance that nature has had on the evolution of mankind and the respect that we once had for it. My works tend to have a strong mythological presence because it elevates the subject beyond the norms of the everyday. It gives it a presence and importance that it already has, but can sometimes be hard to see. My work tends to draw from many mythologies which amalgamate together. I wouldn’t necessarily say that they become a new mythology since many have the same core ideas of respecting and worshiping nature.
You embrace nature and celebrate life in all its glory as well as death and distruction. Is this the process in which you seek your own spiritual and urban equilibrium?
Like a lot of people, I find myself with constant ‘Modern Guilt’, whilst I am aware of the destructive tendencies of mankind I can’t help but find myself being part of it, especially living in a huge city like London. Through my work I am able to have a voice on these issues and hopefully make other think a bit more about their own relationships with the world around them. I think this can be very hard when you live in a city because you tend to become completely oblivious to the natural world around you which is increasingly disappearing under concrete. I think my work is really about atonement, the idea of making amends and acknowledging our failures to the planet. It is about worshiping the Earth that created us and having harmony with our surroundings. It is important for me to be at one with nature and to have a connection which I feel I can have through my work.
When did the fascination with diverse religions and symbolism captured your imagination? And do you come from a religious background?
It all started about five years ago when I came across a book on African art, learning about African cultures and beliefs completely opened my eyes to the fascinating world of ethnography. I soon started researching different cultures, religions and occult practices which all had fascinating ideas as well as incredible costumes and ceremonial objects. I love the symbolic references that religions and cultures apply to animals and other materials in nature. This lead me to start appreciating materials in a whole new way. The symbolic meanings in the materials I use add another dimension to the work and over time it has become the forefront of my practice.
I do not come from a religious background at all. I am incredibly lucky to have great parents who have always encouraged me to follow my own paths and beliefs.
Do you have your own studio and facilities and how do you overcome technical dilemmas in order to achieve perfect aesthetics in your work?
Technical dilemmas usual occur at the last moment just before exhibition installations. You can have work sitting in the studio for months with no issues, then as soon as you take it out of that space things start to go wrong. I find the best way to deal with this is to have a minute of rage (heavy cursing) then once it’s out of your system you can start to think logically about the situation. I always expect things to go wrong so when they do it’s not as stressful.
I have had a studio at Arthub in Deptford for two years now. Arthub has a number of facilities over their three sites allowing artists to work in ceramics, printing, wood work and photography.
Did collaboration with 139 Artspace bring anything new to your art.
Collaborating with 139 gave me the motivation to complete the piece on show.
I started the work 3 years ago but after moving studio the work was damaged and I lost the motivation to complete it a second time. I knew that the piece would work perfectly in the 139 space which motivated me to finally finish it.
Showing in a window space allowed my work to be seen by a much wider audience. People who would not usually visit a gallery were able to stop for a moment to view my art which was really nice.