Looming 1996
Multimedia installation/intervention by Russell Mills and Ian Walton
Eagle Gallery, London
Mixed media paintings, assemblage boxes, 3 vitrines, Victorian family Bible, industrial swarf, leaves, earth, ashes, gilded bird skeletons

Eagle Gallery, London
Multimedia installation by Russell Mills and Ian Walton

Mixed media paintings, assemblage boxes, three aquariums, Victorian Bible, industrial swarf, rusted metal, engravings, earth, ashes, gilded bird skeletons and flowers and plants from near the headstone of Kurt Schwitters in the graveyard of St Mary’s Church, Ambleside.

The sap is mounting back from that unseenness
darkly renewing in the common deep
back to the light, and feeding the pure greenness
hiding in rinds round which the winds still weep.

– Rainer Maria Rilke, The Sap Is Mounting Back, 1924

Looming, through an advocacy of the primacy of process, sought to reaffirm through its intentions a line of artistic thinking that can be traced back to the work of Kurt Schwitters.

In its content, it alluded to our uneasy relationship to and inexorable move from the natural world.
The works, deeply inspired by the landscape of the Cumbrian Lake District, were concerned with the texture of material traces and imprints resulting from a past whose memory has dimmed and whose origins, whether naturally shaped or man-made, are forgotten. The land remembers its own history, and all that has happened to it and within it: it protects its own memory. We generally take its outward signs for granted and are often blind or blasé to the significance of its internal workings.
Two large works on canvas acted as a backdrop to numerous smaller mixed media box works and three glass tanks, which contained various artefacts and found objects immersed in organic matter. The ‘materiality’ of the works was important, celebrating the act of painting as an ordering of thought, material, process and memory. Appearing more as found than made, the works echoed a utopian ideal of nature writing itself, further blurring the boundaries between chance and artistic intervention, between nature and culture.



"During the prolonged period of enforced Covid-19 lockdown restrictions, I suspect like many others, I spent some time in reflective mode. I found myself returning to the set of 30 works I’d made towards possible uses on the Nine Inch Nails’ Hesitation Marks release of 2013. All of these works were subsequently published in the Cargo In The Blood limited edition multiple that was released following the album’s release. I’ve had and continue to receive enquiries about the possibility of some of these pieces being made into limited edition prints, so decided to go through them with this in mind, selecting those that I think will make good prints.

As well as considering the original works, I was also intrigued as to how a set of prints could be made using some of the pieces from the second half of the book, which is titled The Reverse Is Also True. This section features all the artworks subjected to various negative treatments and printed using the four-colour process over a fifth base printing of metallic silver ink. I chose to explore this five-colour process because I was intrigued to see how the unpredictability of this process would affect and work with the overprinted full-colour images. It also mirrored how my work evolves out of experiments with prepared chance, combining chemicals, solutions, man-made and organic materials. The results from such experimentation are always unpredictable, and while there are the occasional disappointments and failures, for the most part, they are surprising and often revelatory. Working in this way ensures that control is surrendered to the unpredictable nature of the materials, thereby avoiding the known and removing any ego from the work.

Having started life as mixed media works, they were photographed, then converted into the digital, after which they became the source of potential new works in their own right, works that could only have been achieved in the computer, the ultimate collage tool.

I’ve chosen a few of my favourites, which, instead of using the five-colour lithographic printing process as used in the production of the Cargo In The Blood book, are to be printed using the digital eight-colour process, onto a very beautiful iridescent PhotoRag Metallic paper produced by Hahnemuhle, the paper manufacturer whose paper is used for all of the Limited Edition Prints.

Unfortunately, it’s impossible to emulate metallic inks on a computer so it’s impossible to show what the finished prints actually look like. You’ll just have to take it on trust that they look wonderful; if they didn’t, they wouldn’t be being offered for sale.

Both sets of these new series, in signed limited editions of 150




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Russell Mills

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