Daphne Warburg Astor, Studio View, 2011 . Courtesy of the artist.
Daphne Warburg Astor
By Jason Hicklin
There is a wonderful contradiction throughout Astors work between the carefully observed drawings and the choice of materials in which to execute these observations.Often drawing with a twig or feather with black ink onto newsprint(a paper which exposed to light begins to deteriorate instantly) or forming newspapers as papier-mache into white washed ghost like figures, human or animal.These materials have a limited life span, but longevity doesn't seem an issue;what underpins the work is an urgency and desire to make a response, whether with descriptive marks or words.Text often accompanies images, the hand writing itself is beautifully formed and is integral to these responses.
Still lifes or interiors become personal landscapes, turning a page of Astor's sketchbooks is a journey in itself, haunting somehow familiar figures inhabit observed landscapes or interiors, tea cups, vases of flowers, seabirds and oceans merge together and create a narrative.Considered brush marks or 'twig' marks inhabit the same page as spontaneous splodges or spills, incidents from the journey taken or time spent still.
Astor's work is a response to her 'now',where she walks,camps and sits,and what materials are at hand at that moment in time;whether with a word or mark,each is a stepping stone to the next,the images not yet realised,and the unwritten words are never far away.
These journeys external or internal are mapped free from the inhibitions of materials or concerns over the finished piece,this is their beauty,fragility and universality.This work is not only made in the studio but on 'the road',on islands,woodlands or from the boat deck this work has movement and spills from page to page.
At the core of the work is a reliance on traditional materials, ink, paper, pigment, wax, oil and water; they are made from 'real stuff ' and that is what the work is about the 'real stuff ',the wind, the earth, the rain, light and dark.
Daphne Warburg Astor, Studio View, 2011. Courtesy of the artist.