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Lyndell Brown and Charles Green

Since 1989, Lyndell Brown and Charles Green have worked in collaboration. “We don’t think of ourselves as separate artists any more, and we don’t have a fixed division of labour, for we’ve never decided that one of us is better at painting something than the other. At different times you might walk into our studio and see us sitting side by side, each with tiny sable brushes, working away on the painful task of exactly copying different segments of a source photograph. At other periods we’ll divide up who does what, quite definitely, over a whole series, but we don’t explain who does what because we wouldn’t ever want to work separately. We share the task of turning the paintings into photographs, working closely with our gifted printer, Sandra Barnard, who found the Duraclear film.”

Their work involves a unique process whereby sources – nineteenth-century books of exploration, science and medicine; museum objects, iconic moments in art and world history; newspaper cuttings, famous paintings, photographs and film stills; and the tattooed bodies of Pacific and North Asian peoples – are layered and arranged within a painted environment that is then photographed and transferred onto transparent Duraclear film. “The process of copying through painting…enables us to montage photographs organized according to the principles and logic of historical memory theatres, and at the same time move outside all criteria of accuracy and truthfulness. The process of re-photographing a painting of photographs, and then reproducing it without any digital manipulation at all, turns the original, quite beautiful, self-sufficient painting into an uncannily dependent phantom—into a ghostly spirit-photograph—and, at the same time, makes the final work much more convincing due to the suppression of the authors’ handiwork”.

(Excerpts from Lyndell Brown and Charles Green, Statement for Sanctuary - and other island fables, Herring Island Environmental Sculpture Park, 2002)