Curated by Rod Taylor
For much of her artistic career, Deborah Thompson’s work has reflected an interest in what it means to be human. Her work is a document not only of the process of painting, but of an attempt to contemplate and explore her own mortality through the symbolism and allegory of spirituality and past cultures. Embroiled in life, death and rebirth, she inhabits an emotionally charged landscape. Although visual, it is not photographic, and the world that she depicts is largely internal, rather than a mimesis of an external one. Her approach can be seen to relate to artists such as Betty Goodwin or Nancy Spero, both of whom not only worked figuratively, but engaged in a process-based practice largely concerned with impermanence and mortality.
The dress pieces represent an interesting departure from painting for Deborah. Although thematically complementary, they are quite different from her two dimensional work. Their minimal aesthetic asks for, and in turn creates a quieter, more contemplative space around them. How they will inform future work remains to be seen, but at the very least they can be taken as further evidence of an artist whose practice continues to challenge both herself and her audience.
The concepts and images that I am exploring in Tales from the Underworld evolved out of my interest in the nature of impermanence. The paintings and sculptural pieces have been selected from three bodies of work: Coming Forth by Day, Going to Hell and Door in the Sky. The term Underworld provides a territory in which to locate the narratives in my art as well as to provide insight into my practice over the past decade.
Although synonymous with Hell, Purgatory and the Bardo among others, the Underworld is perhaps a softer word which implies that which is below consciousness. The first tangible experience I can remember of the Underworld was entering the deep caves of Altamira in Spain where Paleolithic people gathered 15,000 years ago to address their mythology in rituals that included the making of imagery on the contoured surfaces of stone.
At present, a cave-like studio environment allows me to access my own underworld of images, informed over the years by my intersecting interests in mythology, depth psychology and art history. Painting in particular has been my chosen journey along this path. For me it provides fleeting moments of transcendence, giving access to both unconscious personal and transpersonal insights that offer valuable guidance towards the art of being human.