Ruin Seeds

Clyde Richard Brittain

See it On Campus: Level 1

Visitor Info

I'm located on the first floor (basement) of the ECU campus, to your immediate left in the hallway once exiting the double elevators.

Ruin Seeds I & II

Ruin Seeds are an exploration inspired by Boaventura de Sousa Santos’ concept of “ruin seeds”. Santos describes ruin seeds as fragments of past or suppressed cultures that re-assert themselves, sometimes by way of physical ruins of buildings or artefacts. These seeds represent past cultures that had not yet lost their power to imagine alternate futures and so serve to remind us there are ways of thinking and existing outside of the current dominant narrative of capitalism, colonialism, and patriarchy. Ruins are seen by Santos as living things and the seed of an idea representing a past reality, existing in the present and offering hope for a future that diverges from the harmful aspects of Eurocentric modernism.

With this in mind, I drew upon the visual language of botanical and anatomical illustration to create a metaphorical depiction of ruin seeds. I imagined what they might look like if they were an actual seed and how they would manifest themselves as a living plant. This process of thought led me first to create the copper plate etchings Ruin Seed I and II, which I painted with watercolours.

Ruin Seeds I: Future Visions, 2021 Ruin Seeds II: Strange and Bitter Fruit, 2021

Ruin Seed III: Harappan Water Palm

I continued to pursue this line of thought which led to a series of three linoblock prints of a ruin seed at various stages of development: seed, sprout and mature plant. I used these prints as the basis for a short animated film and created a soundscape to accompany it.

Ruin Seed III, 2022

Clyde Richard Brittain

I am an artist working and living in Vancouver, BC, on the unceded territories of the Squamish, Musqueam and Tsleil-Waututh nations. I was born in the Northern part of what is currently called British Columbia and spent my teenage years on Vancouver Island. I have trained in woodworking and commercial printing, both of which influence my artistic practice. I work mainly with print media, although I am also interested in collage, illustration, sculpture and sound.

A primary focus of my practice is exploring the complex and often fraught relationship we, as a species, have with the Earth. I find inspiration in the shapes, textures and patterns that exist within nature. Drawing on these, I seek to imagine new narratives in which humans embrace our place as part of the natural world, just as the natural world is an integral part of ourselves.

My work is highly influenced by historical zoological, anthropological and botanical illustrations, as I love the sense of wonder and the Sublime found in early scientific prints and 16th-century woodcuts. I’m also drawn to the fantastic and other-worldly illustrations from 1960s and 1970s science fiction, with their ability to create a fascinating vehicle for speculation while merging the serious and observational with the absurd and speculative.

The tension between past, present and future is integral to my work. While looking to the past for inspiration, I am focused on the challenges we face in the present, as well as our uncertain future. I draw upon surreal and fantastical imagery to explore issues we must address collectively as a species if we hope to survive. Organic forms merge, mutate, transform and evolve in my work, as I explore what it is to be human in the Anthropocene and what the world might look like if we were at peace with our environment.

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