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Exhibition ran: 7th - 27th November, 2004   [ Photos ]
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Press release
CHAT MOSS, by Derek Hampson

Chat Moss is a large scale ceiling painting representing the bleak marshy area known by this name, a compact but difficult landscape situated in the north of England between Liverpool and Manchester. In 1826 the site was extensively surveyed in preparation for the laying down of what was the world's first fully functioning passenger railway, an act of construction of great importance in the transition from an Enlightenment to an industrial model of technology and society.

In making this work Derek Hampson has utilised a range of complex visual, geographical and experiential data, collaborating with geographer Gary Priestnall in the gathering and analysis of this information. By translating this material into a painting Hampson has deliberately gone beyond the "objective" forms of representation conventionally associated with photographic or computer generated imagery, taking, rather, a phenomenological approach, one which also has

implications for viewers of this layered, substantial work. Although Hampson's and Priestnall's research took place mainly during 2003 - 2004 the painting also incorporates important aspects of Chat Moss's historical transformation, making it as much a depiction of the ground-breaking activities of the 1820s as of the state of the landscape at the present time.

The decision to produce a ceiling painting stems from the recognition that the apparent but deceptive power of the photograph (particularly the aerial photograph) is open to subversion by the metaphorically loaded device of flipping the image by 180 degrees and raising it to the ceiling. In doing this one scrambles the normally fixed coordinates of up and down, top and bottom, left and right. Standard conditions and expectations of looking are disrupted, requiring viewers to visually and mentally project themselves into the image in new, arguably more intense and engaging ways than those demanded by more common, less ambitious painterly forms.

Chat Moss is an Arts and Humanities Research Board and Arts Council England funded project under its art/science major research fellowship scheme.

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