Rhiannon Lowe's picture


Taxonomy, Sean Vicary, 2016 Taxonomy, Sean Vicary, 2016



A new exhibition of animation and sculpture opens at elysiumgallery, Swansea on 12 February. Mysterium tremendum et fascinans, is the work of Sean Vicary, who originally studied painting but became increasingly seduced by the possibilities of working with animation.

After relocating to West Wales, Vicary forged a new practice building upon his painting and printmaking skills and embracing emerging digital technologies; his subsequent moving image pieces have been broadcast in the UK and exhibited worldwide.

The title of the show, Mysterium tremendum et fascinans refers to the overwhelming physical and mental dread experienced when in the presence of the uncanny or divine - a mystery that repels, but which also attracts and fascinates, inspiring awe and beauty. It's a feeling Vicary has experienced in nature, and it was the driving force behind this exhibition.

The show brings together different strands of Vicary's practice collecting recent and previously unseen work: these multi-layered animations invite the viewer to explore an intense semi-fictive landscape of observation, collection and devastation. He is also showing some new sculptural pieces from his recent Makers Using Technology residency at Design Wales.

Vicary believes the art world can sometimes find animation made by artists problematic; it is frequently experimental, confounds expectations and has short running times.

Too often it gets lumped in with other moving image works as part of a screening programme and suffers as a result - so I'm very happy that elysiumgallery is providing a context for the work to be viewed sympathetically; the films are designed to be seen more than once, so ideas can emerge gradually on repeat viewings and connections made between the different pieces, he says.

The animation pieces in the exhibition both use a digital collage technique: Ascension Ceiling uses found footage of drone operators and also a cut up audio track constructed from interviews with Brandon Bryant, a former predator drone operator now turned whistleblower. Taxonomy is built from nineteenth century engravings and illustrations, some taken from works by naturalist Edmund Selous and his brother Frederick.

Mysterium tremendum et fascinans opens at 7pm on Friday February 12 and runs until March 12

The gallery is open Wednesday Saturday, 12pm-5pm