Jamaican Artist

Laura Facey

 

Laura Facey is in an enormously productive phase of her work. Recently, she has completed some of the most challenging pieces of her professional life. Spirit Dancer 1999, Earth to Earth 1999, Christ Ascending 2000, Indigo Prayer 2000, and Still Singing 2001 are a group of installations and commisioned works that evidence this surge, all the more remarkable because of their commanding scale and robust physicality. These life size figures with their healthiness have usurped the fragmented body parts and fragile puppet strung forms, that this sculptor sometimes spent months and years honing and refining. Her recent works boldly announce a victory for beauty and vigour over the negative energy that underpinned works such as Goddess of Change 1993. This transformation of output, scale, and content tells the story of a profound shift in Laura Facey's life, productivity and spirituality.

The body, especially the female form, has been a constant in Laura Facey's assemblages. It has been her way of inserting herself into the interior worlds she has explored since childhood. Back then, these worlds were mythical fairyscapes inhabited by Caribbean ghouls and gremlins that echoed a childlike innocence and love of nature. In later years she would act out these fantasies, shunning city life in favour of hunting and fishing trips with her husband to Salt Island, Jamaica, where they had a 'home' with no running water or electricity. Like children of nature they lived primitivelly and instinctively, and Laura used the bones and feathers from the birds they hunted, perhaps believing that they would live on through her work. When personal troubles entered her life, it was this instinct for survival that drove her work. As the backdrop of Salt Island's mangroves and gremlins gave way to pacifying hues of blue and a more inner landscape, the female body, severed and fragile, insinuated itself into her work with increasing persistence.

But looking at Laura Facey's work is always a beautiful experience. Her bodies, despite their mutilation, are perfectly formed and pristine in their presentation. She brings to her exploration of pain, a truth to form, and a personal poetry that makes each piece exquisite. Her tendency to minimalism, means that she only gives the viewer what is essential, and the gesture of the body in all its sadness or wholesomeness, speaks silently and powerfully.

And there is always a tale, because Laura Facey is essentially a story teller as shown in her own children's story Talisman the Goat 1976 and her illustrations for Chairworm and Supershark 1992. Her assemblages harness her earliest experiences in theatre design and her natural tendency to gesamtkunstwerk (total artwork). With these skills she tells us a tale about her life, and her use of found objects, family memorabilia and poetry are the clues she offers for unravelling its mystery. Such exploration of her interior world, motivates works such as Surrender 1997 and Still Singing 2001; works of transformation, that show the body transcending its environment and yielding to a higher form of spirituality. A process the artist describes as "coming out of a fog".

The clarity in Laura Facey's recent works is a sign of her coming to terms with her past, and, reading between the lines of sculpted poetry need no longer be a chilling experience. The exaltation that supports Christ Ascending, or the interior space opened up by the athletic arc of her demeter like form in Earth to Earth tell a new story about renewal in this artist's life; a story of healing.

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