Chaos in Paradise | Judith Burrows

November 2021 - 10 April 2022

A creative force

About the artist

Judith Burrows is a multi-disciplinary artist, photographer, and award-winning filmmaker. Films have been screened at the London Film festival, Edinburgh, Los Angeles AFIF, and around the world. Her film PULSE was projected on the National Theatre with sound running along the embankment, while documentaries are held in the National Portrait Gallery archive.

A desire for a more visceral expression of her ideas, and an intimate connection to materials and processes, she began painting in 2015. A mixed media fine art practice resulted in exhibitions, commissions and an MA at the RCA July 2021. Winner of the Augustus Martin print prize.


Uncertain states

“In a time of ‘uncertainty’, and global precariousness, I am prompting a dialogue between living organisms, and the man-made, and exploring a parallel mutual interaction. I am concerned with an imbalance of natural order and fragile ecosystems, and searching for balance, symbiosis, and connectivity, at a time of disconnection.”  Judith Burrows

Refining the methodology

The creative process

Ideas may begin as photographs, or oil paintings on canvas, screen-prints, lithography or etching, then develop across metal, glass sculptures, film, sound. I choose materials that decay and atrophy with time, in turn becoming absorbed back into the earth, acknowledging impermanence: steel, glass, degradable papers, and canvas.

Raw steel is currently the material that best carries my ideas: elements and living organic matter in symbiotic or antibiotic interaction. Photosynthesising vegetation in the summer months, lifeless in autumn and winter: a dialogue between nature, the materials and process.

I seek connectivity. I observe nature’s response to the materials by creating narratives in a form of scientific experiments. A tension between the organic in transformation, communicating with the unstable man-made in turn influenced by the elements and the seasons: a sense of intransigence.

An exchange takes place through corrosion and decay. My attempt at intervention precludes any defined outcome. Like a game of chess, I make a move and nature responds in unpredictable ways. Rust dust becomes pigment for paintings that evolve alongside, holding contemporary narratives of Uncertainty

Sculptures are a response to desolate wastelands: homage to landscapes made barren by human detritus in a place no longer useful. Steel totems, artifacts to antiquity, heavy and rigid, they suggest intransigence. Lines and marks created from interaction with each other in the elements in antibiosis. Scars on the surface. Solid and sharp yet holding a delicacy and vulnerability. Small metal squares cling like limpets to the surface: the tenuousness of the human condition When separated they stand in contradiction.

At a point of vulnerability what is revealed are rich tones and form decided by nature in the printed outlines of the source material fragility on the surface in metamorphosis; a palimpsest holding memory in the process: a rebirth.

Alchemy XIII Summer' (left) 'Alchemy XIII Winter' (right) Steel, Organic matter and lacquer
'Chaos In Paradise traces, diptych V' Steel, organic matter and lacquer
'Symbiosis III: A walk on the wildside' | Steel, organic matter and lacquer
'Chaos In Paradise V' | Steel, organic matter and lacquer
'Fragile Earth Diptych' Steel, organic material and lacquer

Narratives of location


The paintings in this exhibition are inspired by the locations sourced for my photographic and film work. In preparation, I explore a specific area to find relevant backdrops for musician’s portraits and album covers. I take photographs as reference using a variety of cameras, both digital and analog, exposing new and old film stock.

Settings range from urban to rural and coastal landscapes, as well as extraordinary architectural interiors. These scenes contain an alternative narrative to the one I will later allow the musicians to impose on. My interest is in how we individually relate to our surroundings, and the narratives we weave into them. Many of these locations are ephemeral, disappearing within days, in the ever-changing skyline. I am intrigued by the captured moment and the impermanence. Graffiti is painted over, hoardings come and go. They exist only in photographs, and paintings.

Once processed, the resulting photographs develop their own dialectic. Some images spark memories and provide the inspiration for further exploration. Random passers-by, captured by chance in the location reference shots, are a significant part of the new narrative and are included in the painting. The characters in these improvised scenarios appear anonymous, genderless strangers who resonate with my search for a place in the world, and a sense of ‘self’. They become entangled in the yarn and are repeated, often myriad times, suggesting all possible permutations and outcomes – the “what ifs” of paths that may or may not be trodden.

The new narrative develops like a storyboard. Overlaying negatives, painting further detail, collaging in text, music score, lyrics, contour lines from a map with layers of abstract textures and symbols. Some details may be temporary – a piece of graffiti, a painted hoarding, or an eroded coastline. It is these chance presences, however, that combine to create the contingencies of the work, shared on paper or canvas, offering a multitude of dramatic narratives within a single image, inviting the viewer to contemplate and revisit their own memories and dreams.

I stretch the works after painting them. They often continue beyond the frame, turning round the corners of the wood, disappearing beyond the line of vision…. a perpetuation. The works are not framed, because the story continues even after the narrator ceases to narrate.

Titles are from words and phrases that occupy my mind while painting, occasionally taken from song lyrics, literature, found text, or from the locations themselves, such as On Great Eastern Street, where I photographed Billy Bragg, Titles encapsulate the new narrative that comes from the repetition and layering of possibility…. And again … memories with no words … again and again’ resulted from immersion in relevant childhood memories that arose from children running

Judith Burrows, Broomhill Estate, Memories with no words again and again
Brexit trilogy 1. 'It was written i should be loyal to the nightmare of my choice'
and again…..memories-with-no-words…..again and again
Brexit trilogy 2. 'In a grey area of incomplete diagnosis'
'Uncertain States I'

Artist CV

Judith Burrows RCA CV

2022: ‘Things will continue to change’: THE HIVE GALLERY London: Sculpture and 2D 2021: 22: TRAVERS SMITH COLLECTION: ‘Gaia mother and Child’
2021-2022: Verdant: Art-can show online gallery
2021: Theo-Artistry: Commission, Exhibition EDINBURGH Nov. Dec.2021. Steel panels 2021: BROOMHILL ESTATE Arts Hotel: 23 works chosen from ‘Uncertain States II’
2021: Stories 01: the NEWS BUILDING: Lithograph mono-print: Uncertain States I 2021: UNCERTAIN STATES II: Solo RCA Graduation show: GALLERY 40: London 2021: Winner: AUGUSTUS MARTIN PRINT PRIZE for printed steel wall sculpture. 2021: RCA 2021 : Online graduation show

2021: CROMWELL PLACE: RCA graduation show,
2021: THE BOTHY at SPG: Artist book show.
2021: ART FROM THE HEART: Online show.
2020: IASI Palace of Culture, ROMANIA: Beyond other Horizons: Exhibition and British Council Symposium. Printed Catalogue.

2020: SOUTHWARK PARK Gallery: ‘In Review’ group show. Installation of metal sculptures, lithograph. BOOK I on waste: edition of 15 Artist books
2019: BLACK SWAN ARTS: En Estos Momentos
2019: COURTYARD Gallery: RCA Brexit show HOCKNEY Gallery : Group Show 2019: Espacio Gallery: 5 new paintings in response to the Rooftop Collective photographer Chris King, Curator Anna McNay

2017: EFDSS, Cecil Sharp House: Solo show: paintings, photographs, and installation 2015: LUCY BELL Gallery, St Leonards on Sea: Works on paper,
2015: ESPACIO gallery, Candid Arts, VAI,


2014: Queen Elizabeth Hall: Film screening Bridge.
2013: Queen Elizabeth Hall: Ragged Kingdom: 3 screen Back projection:
2009: Finsbury Park Gallery: Photography: London Landscape
2008: Lurcher Gallery:, Broadstairs: Photography, Acoustic Landscapes
2007: Barbican Library Gallery: Solo show + screening. Postcards sold at Tate Modern 2006: Orange Film Award: Skimming.
2006: Venice Digital FF: Carwash: Festival screenings worldwide.
2006: Westbourne Studios; screening ‘Spirit of the City’, + London Landscapes
2003: NATIONAL THEATRE Exterior: Pulse film screening: soundscape Southbank. NATIONAL PORTRAIT GALLERY: Artist Films: Terry O’Neil shoots AA Gill:
2003: The Spirit of Capital: 60 min documentary Odeon Leicester Square
1999: Saving Grace: (35mm) BBC2, TV Ireland, Soho House, Edinburgh Film festival 1993: Georgia: (writer, producer, director, editor; super 16mm) Los Angeles AFI Film Festival, Washington DCFF, PhiladelphiaFF broadcast : London Film Festival:

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