Sub-Marine: Chudamani Clowes

12 December 2018 - 14 January 2019

The blue surface of the water glistens with possibilities. It reflects an image of our precious hectic lives. Submerged and sub-marine, the ocean is teaming with life. Migratory activity is in perpetual motion in a wondrous saline garden. In my title Sub-marine I wish to render visible those issues that have been rendered invisible and cast under the surface.In this work I am comparing the migration of coral with that of humans across the oceans to highlight migration’s many causes, from globalization, human conflict and environmental issues.


In these paintings I want to address the concepts and ideas about migration by using the techniques of painting, collage and printmaking. Expect to see mountainous layers of fragile tissue etched with the markings of rescue blankets. My prints have been torn apart and re-assembled like the lives of many migrants. The sea is the platform for this analogy showing the hostile nature of migration and immigration. There are perilous journeys made every day and many lives lost to ocean graves. These are abstract paintings, made with a cornucopia of colours and shapes. Multi- layered and textured, forming a mixed media surface of aquiline colour. I have used a vast range of techniques such as collage, printmaking and painting.


My work seeks to examine the phenomena of migration, and the powerful forces of attraction that have led so many to risk these perilous journeys through passages of ungoverned spaces. These themes are developed through my work where deep below the water’s surface there are no borders and boundaries only the continuity of coral life. The purpose of the coral is to use its allure to entice and entrap. Expect the unexpected in such a sub-aquatic environment, for these are journeys in a kaleidoscope world. Inspect the rich and exquisite colours that shimmer like jewels attracting and hypnotising the traveller.


I bring to my paintings my own personal experience of migration. I can see my own reflection on the turquoise lens of the ocean’s surface. In the paintings I want to question what the allure of migrating to a better life is. How and why is the decision to migrate made? Is it made from the mirage of a bountiful future without considering its deathly consequences?


Choosing submarine coral also highlights the instability and volatility of the eco-system under threat from pollution and global warming. Issues facing humans in the twenty first century.I wanted to make a link with the colonial past of Sri Lanka in my paintings. The coral have been given fictional names of animals that have antlers as historical link to the Victorians who named Coral after animals in their own landscapes.


The nature of Coral is an urge to spread to form new colonies. As with humans it is our necessity to thrive and survive.


I have been influenced by a wide spectrum of sources. I have drawn from the Mediterranean Sea crossings to the conflict in Syria. From films like ‘District 9’, ‘Dheepan’,’ Le Havre’ and ‘Fire at Sea’.


Chudamani Clowes 2018


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