NEW WORK Coming Soon – Meet ‘Chernobyl Cat’

'Chernobyl Cat', biro on china figurine, 2013 by Jane Lee McCracken

‘Chernobyl Cat’, Biro on china figurine, 2013 by Jane Lee McCracken

New work is on its way!  Made late last year prototype ‘Chernobyl Cat’,  one of seven figurines, ‘The Dreamers’, original Biro drawings on china forms part of a wider project about life and death in the animal world, both naturally and at the hands of man.

A feral cat at play in an abandoned house within the exclusion zone around the Chernobyl reactor dreams of birth mutations due to radiation.  The black biro drawing is made of layers from still images of ‘Chernobyl: Life in the Dead Zone’, Discovery Channel, 2007.  Nature in the exclusion zone of Chernobyl seems to be thriving with human interference now removed but scientist are polarised as to the fate of animals living in this area and their long-term survival from the catastrophic levels of radiation that still exist.  This is represented by a pattern of mutated cats and dolls as well as the cat’s natural predators, wolves and foxes – the conglomerated pattern suggests folk art patterns of Russia.

'Chernobyl Cat',Biro drawing on china, 2013 by Jane Lee McCracken

‘Chernobyl Cat’, Biro drawing on china, 2013 by Jane Lee McCracken

Inspired by Goya’s Los Caprichos, ‘The Dreamers’ represent the innocent physicality of sleep whilst the torrid kaleidoscope of dreams cascades through the brain.   ‘The Dreamers’ also represents the quiet moments of peace and daydreams before the inevitability of life’s realities steals ‘innocence’.  Dreams play out like films in our minds, abstract fragments of the brain’s data input of information and our fears and hopes.  Much of my work is based on the subject matter of loss through war and disaster or environmental destruction, represented in layered Biro drawings using stills from films often creating an abstracted phantasmagoria of images and thoughts.  Films transport and capture our minds just like dreams do; they face our fears, portray our hopes and can be therapeutic tools in our waking hours as dreams are deemed brain therapy in our sleep.

'Chernobyl Cat', biro drawing on china, 2013 by Jane Lee McCracken

‘Chernobyl Cat’, Biro drawing on china, 2013 by Jane Lee McCracken

I made a random collection of figurines from local charity shops, so that my philosophy of simply using what is close at hand, such as a Biro for drawings was upheld with the choice of figurines available on each day.  Damaged and repaired figurines were still selected to retain the memory of the figurine’s previous life and owner.  Each figurine was then painted white, purifying them from the original manufacturers painted design and stripping each figurine back to the foundations of its physical representation thus creating a blank canvas.  This brings a sense of life to each figurine without the distraction of painted design before the original black Biro drawings are drawn onto the painted surface as well as white representing the purity of ‘a being’ at sleep.  An incredibly hard surface to draw on, these pieces were challenging and remain precious for the intimacy shared with each piece by holding them in my hands as I drew on them.

Further images will be released as this project continues.  

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Where Wolves and Bears Dare!

'TV Screen II - "Where Wolves and Bears Dare", 2009, colour Biro drawing by Jane Lee McCracken

‘TV Screen II – “Where Wolves and Bears Dare”, 2009, colour Biro drawing by Jane Lee McCracken

After the Chernobyl disaster in 1986 people were evacuated from the disaster zone. With humans gone from the countryside, wildlife began to take over the homes of the previous occupants, finally realising the tale of Goldilocks and the Three Bears!  Taking my own photographs of the Discovery Channel’s documentary ‘Chernobyl: Life in The Dead Zone’, 2007, I drew layers of images from five stills weaving together a wolf, a bear, a kitten and toys of the former occupants into a new interior setting ‘where wolves and bears dare’ to roam.  The title also suggests a link to my favourite war film “Where Eagles Dare” and the war between nature and man.  This piece represents the harmony nature re-encounters without human disruption as well as Nature’s infallibility to human destruction.  Has nature won this war?  Only time will tell, but it appears to be thriving in the most radioactively contaminated area in the world.  With people refused access to live there, other than some 100 or so elderly inhabitants of 11 villages, it is to be hoped this Involuntary Park where rare Lynx along with Brown Bears who had disappeared from the area over 100 years ago and have returned again, is left to flourish.

This drawing took some 3 months to complete, working on a square inch per day as colours are mixed directly on the paper and the complexity of deciding as I draw what should be layered over what to produce a projected, abstract effect makes for painstaking work in its entirety.

Luxury Archival Pigment Prints of ‘TV Screen II – “Where Wolves and Bears Dare!”‘ made by the marvellous Jack Lowe studio are available to order from my website

'TV Screen II - "Where Wolves and Bears Dare", 2009, colour Biro drawing by Jane Lee McCracken

‘TV Screen II – “Where Wolves and Bears Dare”, 2009, Archival Pigment Print