PROFILE: Kelly Richardson | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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Image: Pillars of Dawn

“We have just 12 years remaining to limit climate change catastrophe. We’ve been warned for decades that this is what humanity faces on our current path of planetary pillaging and consumption, along with every other living species. Yet here we are, knowingly heading towards certain, terrifying disaster.”

A planetary tragedy is just the beginning of the journey for Canadian-born artist Kelly Richardson. A hard reboot on humanity lurking on the periphery of our collective consciousness, the apocalyptic sublime threaded throughout Richardson’s work returns in the scintillating Pillars of Dawn, which is exhibited at Northern Gallery for Contemporary Art in Sunderland’s National Glass Centre from Thursday 28th March until Sunday 2nd June.

Using a series of video installations and large printed images, a desolate world is conjured where every lifeform is crystallised or carbonised, the sole exception a sequence of solitary trees. Populated by millions of individual crystals (one for every species still existing on Earth), wild landscapes boast intricate 3D models developed through conversations with climate scientists over the last decade.

Through masterful collaboration and a near-supernatural control of her intense creative process, Richardson crafts vivid, hyper-real places set in imaginary futures, knowing precisely the feeling she wants to draw from those confronting the work.

“I am hoping they’ll feel conflicted. While visually alluring, questions surrounding how these landscapes have transformed so drastically should crop up. There are no signs of existent life within these scenes; if this is a potential future, how could this have happened?”

Offering a glimpse beyond the unimaginable, Richardson hones our focus onto the moment of truth our species is heading toward. “An enormous effort to avert the worst of climate change is needed, it’s now or never. A new dawn is upon us, that is certain; what that dawn looks like isn’t. Will it offer a new way of living harmoniously with what little remains of the natural planet? Or will it be our worst nightmare?”

Here in the pre-apocalypse, and with one of the most highly-anticipated shows yet staged at NGCA, returning to the region is a thrill for Kelly. “It feels fantastic. I lived in the North East for 14 years of my life. A big part of my heart belongs to it, so I’m very much looking forward to coming home.”

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