In the title essay for Cathie Pilkington's exhibition Estin Thalassa, art historian Neil Walton examines Pilkington's extravagant sculptural installation.
Thalassa, the sea, is an apt reference for a show that visually floods the space and which, moreover, is inundated with loosely interconnected motifs, symbols and stylistic influences. Many of these motifs have an obvious historical point of reference, such as the sinuous foliage of Eric Gill’s stark linear medieval- ism, the proto-Op art of Edward Wadsworth’s Vorticist dazzle- ships and the pagan rhythms of Sonia Delaunay’s geometric textile prints. Others are more dispersed and pervasive: a certain archaic-mythic feel, a domestic-surrealist mood mixed with the feeling of musty ecclesiastical decor. In this exhibition, art history is tidal and meandering rather than fluvial and sequential; imagistic flotsam accumulates chaotically, or rather according to unconscious, syncretistic currents, eroding the vertical paradigm of the Oedipal canon.