Artist Chantal Powell's work features in our NightShaking with The Ingram Collection exhibition. Objects made by Chantal will sit alongside works from The Ingram Collection as the artist explores the Dark Night of the Soul and the Night Sea Journey narrative. The exhibition presents symbols and imagery that help us navigate these chaotic and disorientating experiences on a journey that is necessary to achieve transformation.

1. Your work in this exhibition explores the Dark Night of the Soul and the Night Sea Journey narrative. What is it about these subjects that inspires you both?

You can’t help but make art from where you are at in life and over the past five years, we have both gone through personal Night Sea Journeys. For me, there have been two cycles. The first was a period of debilitating health in which I was struggling with basic life functions for many months. It caused me to question my value when life identities are stripped away. The second cycle has been one of relational loss – my marriage, home, and people close to me like my father. Making artwork using the motif of the Night Sea Journey, and meditating on the transformation that is possible, has been a powerful container to the experiences.

2. Who is your favourite artist? What do you like about their work and does it transpire in your own?

I don’t think I have ever had a favourite artist. There are many artists I admire and they often grow as my research interests do. I’m a big fan of the Russian artist Evgeny Antufiev’s work. Of my artist peers, I am currently loving the work of artists like Aimee Parrot, Ella Walker, and Emii Alrai. I’m also very fortunate to work alongside many wonderful artists in the residency program I run – Hogchester Arts – in West Dorset. Those experiences feed into my own working practice.

3. Out of all the artworks you are exhibiting in the Upper Gallery, which are your favourite and why?

The ceramic Mandala Chambers are very close to my heart. They were comforting to make – soft clay curves creating something that is both a journey and a home. I fired them outside in an oil drum, instead of my kiln, which meant I had little control over the outcome and had to trust the elements to collaborate with me. The blackening, the cracks, and the breaks are all part of the work. Much like the alchemists being transformed through their labours, I’ve learned the importance of letting go of control, of embracing unexpected change, of patience and humility.

4. You created The Red Book Club, a free online book club focusing on the unconscious. What is your favourite book and why?

Oh that’s a tough one – we have read some great books and had some wonderful guest speakers join us in our meetings. Hearing author and anthropologist Amy Hale discuss how she researched and wrote the Ithell Colquhoun – Genius of the Fern Gulley (a biographical study of the British Surrealist) was a particularly special evening. The book that we read together that had the biggest personal impact however was Jeffrey Raff’s Jung and the Alchemical Imagination. He uses alchemical imagery to illustrate the Jungian process of active imagination which has been important in my personal life and artistic practice.

5. What’s next for you? Any upcoming projects or exhibitions we should keep an eye out for?

I have a few group shows coming up in the remainder of this year. A Strange Kind of Knowing, curated by Olivia Penrose Punnett (in collaboration with Arusha Gallery), will be showing in London and then touring to other locations. Invoking Absence, curated by Patricia Brien, will be on in Stroud next month. Darkness at Noon, curated by Ruth Calland, at APT Gallery in London this November.

In the studio, I’m working on a series of ceramic and bronze sculptures that draw upon archetypal motifs and the idea of “energy-filled symbols”. I also hope to open up conversations with museums about the possibility of a collaborative project using artifacts in their collections.

To find out about other exhibitions we have on display this year at The Lightbox, click here.