Biography and Artists Statement
“I remember the moment my mother announced she was leaving, sitting in the back of a car with my younger brother; perplexed, being told how things were ‘all for the best’. I remember the feeling of aloneness and of sudden separation. As a child I would often climb up the biggest of trees to physically feel at peace, away from what seemed like the emotional turmoil below.
Only after a struggle with depression in my thirties, in the past 5 years I have started to connect with this time and tackle all this in my art, starting with a moving-image work named Empty House Studies. In this sequence of performative actions, I re-enact small vulnerable moments, gestures and actions that can take on an extra and deeper level of meaning.
I remembered an instance from years ago whilst I was working with a severely mentally ill elderly man who was institutionalised and he could only do up the buttons on his shirt whilst listening to a particular Mozart piano concerto. This small action and gesture opened up a key to his past as a musician. More recently, I have thought of this when looking after close family with dementia. It is the key actions and gestures that we hold onto to the end.
The Studies are situated within my own abandoned house. One particular piece involves an old silver cross pram which we used for my first newborn son. I re-enact the actions I used to perform daily, to rhythmically rock our baby to sleep. Repeating these gestures and observing them 20 years later transforms them and somehow conveys a poignant sense of loss and pathos.
I sit on the top of some stairs, remembering the witnessing of a violent argument between my parents, making marks on a wall, making large shadows with my hand in a shaft of light to take my mind away.
Each sequence is about a lived experience and reflects my fascination with how each gesture can let the fears and facts of our lives escape us.”
Rowan Hull (born UK, 1968) is an energetic multi disciplinary artist, who is at ease in performance and with a background in painting and music, he creates moving image work from performative actions that weave together sound and painting with gesture and movement. Rowan Hull is a synaesthete and this informs his exploration of the sensory experiences of gesture, colour and the interactive creative process often via large scale and immersive interventions in different spaces particularly with contemporary classical and improvised Music.
Rowan Hull’s work consists of an ongoing examination, analysis and exploration of this hybrid work and are forms of collaboration, demonstrating and analyzing how such collaborations work both as process and product. Rowan Hull’s practice often engages with the public, and invites the viewer to actively participate and interact within the works. This has in turn led to Rowan Hull working within the public realm which democratises his practice lending agency to the therapeutic and neurological benefits within the practice as a whole.
This has led directly to many opportunities of enquiry in healthcare environments. In particular with the elderly and the mentally ill and especially with people living with Schizophrenia. More recently his work is exploring broader themes such as vulnerability, loss and care through performative actions documented via moving image work.
In his 30 years of work he has participated in many festivals, performances and exhibitions and has collaborated and given talks with composers, musicians, writers and scientists. His work is in public and in Private Collections. (See Art UK for details)
Rowan-Hull is a former Creative Arts Fellow at Wolfson College (2009-2012) and remains a lifelong member of the University of Oxford.