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Cardwell+McLachlan | Acquiesce | Studio Insights

Cardwell+McLachlan’s inaugural photographic series alludes to, by definition, the succumbing of oneself, with minimal or no resistance, to the unfolding events.

At first glance the skeletal characters in these lush scenes tend to give in to this theory as they roam amongst the thick wooded landscape. However, the artists suggest that this may not be so, rather they are survivors who have managed to evolve from a world taken from them. The deer skeletons act as a metaphor for the fragility of our natural world, as well as the evolved inbuilt mechanisms nature has developed to conquer adversity as they find a new way to survive in a changed environment.

Through the combination of Stuart McLachlan’s hand-sculpted paper deer, echoing the fragility of life through its own materiality, and Simon Cardwell’s hauntingly evocative photography, the two artists work in unison through every step to create the magnificent miniature worlds in which their characters exist.

Cardwell+McLachlan’s vision of a post-human world has been entirely built by hand. They have created ecological environments for their heroes to live in, made from living plant life almost exclusively gathered from their own gardens, as well as overlooked detritus that has been collected to breathe life into their new worlds. Hundreds of different elements have been placed together in a natural and random fashion as the artists work to mimic the spirituality and depth of these quietly wonderful places.

In reality, the living sets are less than two square metres, with the deer no bigger than one’s hand, but the scale they represent seems enormous. The animals wander through lush foliage doing what they have always done – it is a story of family, protection and the importance of home. These are narratives that reflect our own human story and the preciousness of protecting our world for the generations ahead.

“We want people to read into these stories, find their own personal parallels,” explains the duo. “Even though these animals are skeletons we don’t see them as deceased, ever. We see them as living entities, reclaiming what was taken by humanity’s self-serving folly.”

Cardwell+McLachlan propose that regeneration is the apex directive of the natural world. While the environment may be devastated by human interaction or climatic changes, balance will be achieved. A process akin to muscle memory will adjust and build a modified environment to accommodate new species and old, such as the deer which now resides in six continents, may one day take their rightful place in the world’s biosphere and again be another piece in the incredible beautiful and complex natural order.

Film by Curatorial+Co.

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