Day Bowman


Strange Places: a foreword by Mel Gooding (excerpt)

Day Bowman continues to look with great intensity through the prism of painting at the neglected landscapes at the edges of the contemporary urban world. These terrains vagues bear desolate testimony to the immediate past, to recent times of industrial activity, of human use and trevail, of productivity and excess. They are poignant and sometimes distressing monuments to possibilities exploited and potentialities exhausted. They are thereby emblematic (as are all ruins) of a recurrent condition, signifying the entropic energies inherent in any civilisation. They speak with a special eloquence to our time and place, as we contemplate the decline of industrialism in the West, and the evocative American term 'rust belt' seems apt to our own post-industrial landscapes. 

In Bowman's paintings and collages these 'urban wastelands' do not so much sentimentally recollect the past as remind us of the future, and bring us to a recognition of the present as itself in the process of ruination. Certainly the places and objects of Bowman's wastelands are pictorially evoked, in colour and drawn image or shape, and by the subtle use of photo-collage and montage. But her colours have tonal indeterminacy (all inky blacks, greys, grey-greens, blue-greys, off-whites, dirty pinks), and the photo-traces seem to fade (as photographs do) into a time of their own, another time, as in a dream or a memory. But Bowman's paintings also register what is continuous and ever-present in the experienced here and now.

Confronting the ineluctable strangeness of the derelict and the deserted, Day Bowman's art embodies something of the spirit described by the great Spanish architect-theorist Ignasi de Sola-Morales: 'What is to be done with these enormous voids, with their imprecise limits and vague definition? Art's to preserve these alternative, strange spaces, strangers to the productive efficiency of the city...The enthusiasm for these vacant spaces - expectant, imprecise, fluctuating - transposed to the urban quay, reflects our strangeness in front of the world, in front of the city, before ourselves.'

Bowman's paintings look into the mirror, and take to themselves the raw beauty of the edgelands.