Proust project | Hawthorns

I found the whole path throbbing with the fragrance of hawthorn-blossom. Marcel Proust | Swann's Way

Proust was obsessed with the over-the-top beauty of the hawthorn blossoms. Clouds of white and pink scent the air and create a visual feast of color and form and extravagance. At one point, he notes a brave solo poppy ("the sight of a single poppy hoisting upon it slender rigging and holding against the breeze its scarlet ensign..." p. 195). More often he is enthralled by myriad small blooms forming a massive, exuberant whole. He writes of perceiving a meadow of flowers as "a golden expanse, until it became potent enough to produce an effect of absolute, purposeless beauty" (p. 237).

The challenge in creating the 'hawthorns' piece was to find a lush palette and bountiful composition that avoided sentimentality or pure nostalgia. Proust created these elaborately embellished moments and places from his childhood, engaging with hard and sorrowful moments as well as happy and blissful ones. The complexity and detail he incorporates keeps these from being sentimental. Creating a visual experience of abundance while maintaining the conceptual framework of our fragmented memory-mediated-by-language gave me the approach to developing a composition that connects with the literal imagery of hawthorn blossoms and with the larger overall themes of language and signaling and constructed memories. My interests lie in 'becoming' or the continual change that favors irregularity and imperfections and variation over perfect forms and pure symmetry.

A palette of iridized whites and fuchsia tint glass along withย popping spring greens is balanced with grayscale foliage and the central mechanical structure of the piece.

Proust project | palette for hawthorns | c Heather Hancock 2014

Activation and signaling is present with gray and green stringer, doubling in some cases as a sort of stem. The central constructive element is backgrounded this time at smaller scale and realized in shimmering grays.

Proust project | cutting hawthorns | c Heather Hancock 2014

Preliminary images after grouting.

WIP | Proust project | grouting hawthorns | c Heather Hancock 2014

Next up: stairs...and the sense of sorrow and despair of a child having to leave his mother and go up these dreaded stairs to bed.