A few years ago I visited a friend who lived close to the Arctic Circle. There, the sun still shone in the summer sky past midnight each evening. Insomnia ensued and we swam in Helsinki Bay at three in the morning. She described to me her dread of oncoming winter when it was dark as night the whole day long. The concept of such extremes and of the resulting disorientation was influential in the making of the drawings for this exhibition. Also, the idea of an unusual illumination or unexpected fluctuations in atmospheric conditions are visual metaphors for reliance on instinct: something that guides us from within based on sensitivity to cues in nature.

Closer to home: spring is lush and summer a far high point; the end of year seasons are a drawing within: a condensing of energy. The bear hibernates hidden; seeds wait under earth, and deciduous trees above only appear, barren. Light comes from candles, distant or electric stars, fireplaces, lanterns, and shadows pulsate. We awaken to darkness.

As we countdown to the final days of our planet’s annual revolution around our sun, some look back in review while others look towards the new year with expectations and resolutions. The drawings in Midnight Sun are winter tales that situate the viewer in the space between. I do not try to draw or tell a literal description of winter, but prefer to evoke and reflect upon its characteristic elements and particular beauty.
 
Sightless, wingless birds, injured or anthropomorphized bodies, storms and lightning bolts, singular figures situated in austere locale, populate the drawings. (You would only notice such figures, under low light conditions…) These are the characters and situations to be found in a winter’s tale, by fireside. As in a musical nocturne, darkness recalls the vigil that takes place during the transition from the night hours towards dawn. In my drawn form, the vigil is suggested by a lack of clear distinction between dark and light, night or day – this is an imaginary, intermediary world where anything is still possible, or may have already happened.

Julie McNiel
Winter, 2012