“The Material Presence of the Past”

16th November- 16th January

Bone Book small.jpg

In “The Material Presence of the Past,” Helen Teede reads the earth’s surface as a “text”. Finding a sense of disillusionment in what is written by humans, who are unavoidably bound to a subjective frame, she attempts to subvert the inextricable link between power and writing by seeing every mark on a surface as a kind of writing.  Thus she has explored Zimbabwe’s landscape, finding writings in fossilized dinosaur footprints, the bark of trees, the ribcage of a hippopotamus, the rivulets made in sand by an evening breeze, the stones that were once a forest, or the palimpsest of a cliff-face. She traverses the boundaries between art, philosophy, literature and science, incorporating texts from these disciplines in her work and pitting them against what the earth’s surface permits us to read. In doing so, she asks the viewer to discern their own relationship with writing, mark-making, landscape and power.


“The more I read the earth, the more I find stories that are rich, layered and fascinating. The earth’s text allows me to traverse time, bringing the past – as far as a hundred and sixty million years back – into the present. It makes me intensely aware of my own fleeting presence in the world.”