Nature’s unassuming beauty inspires the work of Cape Town artist Imogen Clarke, which centres on a profound engagement with the natural world.
Driven by the patterns and rhythms inherent around us, Imogen demonstrates – with a devotion to authenticity – that we are all small parts of something much larger than ourselves, like the notes of a song, the leaves of a tree or cells of a body.
The subtle delicacy of Imogen’s imagery emerges from the painstaking application of thousands of stippled dots of ink on paper, woven into an organic whole, and sometimes enhanced with a touch of gold leaf or watercolour. Beginning from a single point, this meditative process is used to build ephemeral mandalas and tessellations, as well as intricate scenes in which animals and birds interact with lush, fantastical landscapes that hover on the paper like objects of sacred geometry themselves.
The images do not reveal themselves all at once, so viewing them is an active process. There is tension in the intuitive forces applied to the viewer – who in turns admires the arcadian image as a whole, and is then inevitably drawn to the array of miniscule details: the wings of a sunbird, a school of fish, or the elegant curves of a pathway. The work encourages in the audience a simultaneous awareness of being engaged in the act of looking, and of existing within a greater context.
The creation of these drawings is an act of dedication and acceptance, of being-in-the-world, springing from the spontaneity of unforced growth. Imogen’s measured mark-making translates the natural experience – one of change, imperfection and progress. The fundamental act of ‘showing up’ is central to Imogen because of the weighty substance of her themes. Speaking on behalf of nature through her images requires immersion in it, as well as the necessity of engaging deeply in her work.
We are all intricately connected, and change for the good starts with consciousness. While there are no human figures in these scenes of paradise, the precise lines of arches, aqueducts, temples and stairways which are surrounded by foliage, rivers and hills suggest that we humans can live in harmony with our environment. Imogen’s artworks help us develop an ecologically sensitive attitude towards nature, and our place in it.
Born in Gauteng, Imogen is currently based in Cape Town. A background in healing and life-coaching, a passion for astrology and travel, as well as a deep fascination with Japan, have all facilitated and informed her creative journey so far.