Darlington Retrospective: East of the Sun, West of the Moon
I must confess, there are few paintings that I love as wholly as I love East of the Sun, West of the Moon by Kerry Darlington. Even the title evokes a distant place where sunsets are hours long and the stars are so bright you’d never need a torch. As an art student, I recall tutors making sure we aspiring art professionals never used such adjectives as ‘love’ to describe an artwork, that we should find critique through technique, accomplishment and concept. East of the Sun, West of the Moon ticks all these boxes without a doubt, but it has so much more than those things to offer with an emotive influence which is off the chart. The power of this painting is its ability to transport to not only a different time and place, but to a different age and outlook. Though based upon the Norwegian folk-tale, the artist was also inspired by Lyra Silvertongue and Iorek Byrnison, characters from the epic trilogy His Dark Materials by Philip Pullman. It is this connection which speaks to my inner teenager who avidly lapped up the theory of multiple universes, and wanted desperately to be the young street urchin Lyra with her edgy ‘can-do’ attitude. My mind conjured up the Northern Lights Lyra travelled to, and admired her ability befriend all. The first time I saw the original painting of East of the Sun West of the Moon, I was instantly taken back to that feeling of adventure and possibility which Darlington perfectly summarised when the painting was first released;
In this piece, the girl has just left home for the first time and has her first taste of freedom. She is looking up in awe of nature's display in the skies, the Northern Lights. As her senses open and she relishes the cold, fresh wilderness, part of her awakens and she remembers who she really is..
- Kerry Darlington
The painting has an extraordinary translucency created by the multiple layers of paper-thin sprayed resin sandwiching films of delicate paint, allowing light to travel and dance between each brushstroke. It is a joyful painting, which imagines the jubilant feeling of crisp winter air on warm skin which nothing but landscape in front of you, and the rainbow sky of the Aurora above. Having not seen the original for over two years, to appreciate the work in person again is a wonderful privilege and reconfirms the piece as an accomplishment that goes beyond ‘just’ painting but into the realm of inspiration and awakening. Art is more than the sum of its parts and so I defiantly say with full pride that I love East of the Sun, West of the Moon in all its formats, unique edition, remarque, original sketch and of course stunning original painting.