Jason Hicklin, Lower Kilchattan, Port Mor & Dun Ghallain. Courtesy of the artist.
By Scott Blaser
Hicklin is a British Landscape artist born in the middle of this island which somehow seems relevant to the following words.
His work always has its origins with a walk, travelling to and living in a chosen landscape, walking with a tent and sketchbooks, often choosing now desolate places that were once inhabited, rich in the traces of previous settlers (reliant on the sea for sustenance and protection), remnants of track ways, standing stones and field patterns. Travelling 'light' is essential, and this initial confrontation with the landscape is made with the feet, the eyes, sticks of soft graphite and heavy duty sketchbooks. A trodden line on the earth, a graphite line on paper; eventually a walk is mapped and hauled back to the studio.
The process of etching is at the core of Hicklin's drawings; the act of decision making and commitment to the mark is paramount, the physicality of corrosion and the element of chance is re-engaged with during the intaglio process. Each series of prints seems to mirror the rhythm of the walks taken, Hicklin wants to guide you through a somehow familiar landscape at the same time leading you into a mysterious, haunting process; how does the drawn line leave the metal and enter the paper?
All of this work takes place within the British Isles,at the very edge of Western Europe,where the Celtic world meets the Atlantic Ocean.This corroded,weathered land provides a perfect backdrop to this exploration of self and process, even these deserted, ancient landscapes carry the marks of human occupation, and Hicklin seeks these traces. Following the long deads footsteps; from Tory Island, Co Donegal, Eire, to the Isle of Colonsay, The Scottish Inner Hebrides to the Solway Firth on the border between England and Scotland he needs to walk to draw. This Explorer of Britain with his wanderings and sticks of graphite reminds us of the places that exist, which we may never visit and that the land has an edge, and this edge is a dangerous, wonderful,unforgiving place, all words which are appropriate to his chosen medium. His drawings whether etched into metal or drawn directly onto paper hold a tension and mystery, one can almost feel the rain on the paper and a sense of isolation.He has done the journeys for us. He has retrieved and analyzed lines which define these spaces a fine balancing act the glimpses of light, the mysterious blacks and corroded lines.
Recent collections of etchings incorporate handmade etched maps, place names retrieved from gravestones informing us what possibilities the etching process holds. Landscape in a box; opening one of these boxes releases the documented walks, place names, drawn lines the smell of ink and paper invites us into a mysterious landscape and process.Once the black box is closed the memory lives on, revisited and refreshed when I choose.
Jason Hicklin, Kenmare River West Cork. Courtesy of the artist.
Scott Blaser uses the duration of the gesture to mark moments of remembrance appropriating the visual language of the post-war American sublime; he ives and works in London.