October 31, 2021

What Went We Out into This Wilderness to Find?

Joshua Macpherson

Oils on MDF BoardPeace Child, It Is Gone, 2021600x800mm

An image of a forest, dark, imposing and organic looming before a solitary figure. Inspired to paint by Robert Eggers’ “The Witch” (2015). A family’s destruction occurs from within while threatened from the infernal dwelling in the woods on their threshold. The forest represents a primal, untamed natural order that exists in opposition to the patriarchal structure of puritanical Christianity. As we attempt to impose an artificial existence separated from our environment, and our very natures itself, the effort is exposed as futile. The forest’s chthonic presence inevitably overcomes the celestial. As the family attempts to follow the rule of God, they inevitably fall short of their self-imposed standards. Overwhelmed by guilt, fear is turned upon each other, and destruction is ironically self-inflicted. At this moment the genuine threat of the forest becomes a comfort to the victim. Outcast by society, she embraces the infernal. Joining the ranks of witches who victimised the family. Faced by the unknown, must we bow to the almighty forces in our lives, or entirely reject society and become the adversary? It is important to recognise our shared fears and failings. Accept our fragile place if we are to take care of each other.