palІm(p)sεst : something having diverse layers or aspects apparent beneath the surface.
Mixed media drawings
by Jane Couroussopoulos
I studied painting, etching and engraving at City and Guilds of London Art School and moved to Edinburgh 27 years ago. I have been teaching as a community education tutor for Edinburgh City Council since 2002 and at Leith School of Art since 2003 where this year I have taken over as leader of the two day Drawing Course.
I have a studio space in Coburg House where I continue to draw and paint alongside my teaching.
In the last three years I have concentrated almost exclusively on drawing.
The shrines and churches in this body of work are born of a fascination with the way these religious structures, small and large, individual and communal, punctuate our environment.
Kandylakia is the Greek name for these roadside shrines seen along many winding roads in Greece - ostensible markers of lives lost, they also mark lives spared. Lasting memorials to lost relatives are an essential part of Greek culture and these shrines are, as far as I know, unique to Greece.
Each one, reminiscent of a tiny church, contains an unexpected mix of religious artefacts – icons, chalices, candles and incense burners, and then the debris of our throw-away culture – plastic coca-cola bottles and polystyrene tumblers that would have held oil for the lamps. These metal shrines, now rusted, paint peeling, and bent, are no longer made - garish cement and marble ones are now preferred - so the ones depicted in the drawings in this exhibition, are mostly abandoned, the families who erected them either dead or moved away.
Apart from the beautiful and lonely church at Polnish in the West Highlands, and the church in the bustling centre of Modena in Italy, the churches in my drawings are Orthodox churches, some built, and still stubbornly attended, in the most remote and inaccessible of places. Others, just a little easier to reach, still have a particular relationship with their location: surrounded by water on a little islet in a bay, almost engulfed by trees bent from years of growing in constant wind, a monastery hewn out of a cliff face, once also inaccessible, now reached by hundreds of stone steps....
[Palimpsest: something having diverse layers or aspects apparent beneath the surface.]
The drawings are made by starting with a random layer of newspaper that provides a surface to build on and crucially react to and against. The drawings are then built up with further layers of graphite, oil pastel and oil bar, and further paper, in a continual cycle of adding and obliterating. I hope that the visible process that makes up the history of each drawing from start to finish, echoes the changing fortunes of the shrines and churches that have been drawn.
Jane Couroussopoulos, October 2015
Private View: Friday 23 October 2015, 6pm - 8pm