John Elcock is a visual artist with an interest in landscape, birds and symbolism. Recent exhibitions include A Strange Reality at Warrington Art Gallery and selection in The Lynn Painter- Stainers Prize 2018. His three collections of poetry are published by The Artel Press.
This structure was created for Material Matters Act 3 in reclaimed timber and was constructed outside in the sculpture yard at Bridewell Studios over a period of 3 days in December 2018.
Anchorite alludes to a monastic practice of the middle ages in which a hermit would wilfully and permanently enter an enclosed cell attached to the chancel of a church. Unlike the Bridewell, the anchorite’s cell however would be a place of prayer and ascetic removal, rather than one of forced imprisonment and humiliation.
Like its medieval counterpart, Anchorite contained a squint, an alms window and skylight. It communicated directly through to the cells of the Bridewell via a hidden upper window, in a similar manner to the medieval squint’s perspective on the altar.
For the opening night of Act 3 the artist spent one night in his contemporary interpretation of an anchorite cell to test his, and our modern resolve, to abstinence and voluntary privation.
In this work specifically created for Act 1 of Material Matters, Elcock reproduced at 1:60 scale the subterranean passage underneath James St linking the ditch (fosse) of the now lost 13th century Liverpool Castle with the Mersey.
A section of the work features a gesso hand-tinted with ground pigment collected from Liverpool bedrock – inextricably linking materials with its subject matter.
15kg of recycled cardboard was used in its construction. The sections were laminated with gesso and hole-sawn to reveal an inner core along its entire length corresponding to the medieval tunnel. A hidden media device plays fleeting images suggesting modern ideas of ‘escape’.