Justin Coombes: In Indra's Net
Exhibition runs: 24-31 October 2021 / Mon-Fri 2-8pm, Sat-Sun 11-8pm
Opening reception: Saturday 23rd October 3-8pm
Closing reception: Sunday 31st October 3-7pm
Children's workshop / Friday 29th October 10am-1pm & 2-5pm RSVP
The two half-day workshops for ages 8-11 will fire children’s imaginations by posing playful but serious questions about our relationship with nature, asking them to think creatively about evolution. Children will imagine new insects, animals, plants and landscapes, bringing them alive through storytelling and drawing. The workshop will be led by Dr Alexander Massouras, an artist and a teacher, and supported by Ritwiza Asthana. Places are limited - booking is recommended.
Slippery Knowledge Panel discussion / Saturday 30th October 5-7pm RSVP
In this exclusive event at HOXTON 253, artist Justin Coombes will give a short presentation on his exhibition and will be joined by two experts from the fields of Buddhism and ecology to discuss its themes. Places are limited - booking recommended to secure a seat.
Dr Justin Coombes is a visual artist and writer. Most of his art plays on the relationship between word and image. He works across poetry, drawing, photography, film, installation and publishing. Key themes are love, mythology and memory; his fictional characters range from kingfishers and crows to Hindu deities. His work is in a large number of collections in the UK, Russia, France, India, Canada, Japan, the USA and China. These include the British Government Art Collection, Ernst and Young, and the David and Indrė Roberts Collection. Prizes include the £20,000 BOC Emerging Artist Award and the Flash Forward award, Magenta Foundation. Grants include Arts Council England, Fenton Arts Trust, AHRC and Oxford University’s Research Centre in the Humanities. He is a visiting tutor at the University of the Arts, London and the Ruskin School of Art, University of Oxford.
Dr Michael Pocock is an ecologist based at the UK Centre for Ecology & Hydrology.
He researches how environmental change affects species and their interactions, and the benefits people gain from connecting with nature including through taking part in ‘citizen science’. Previously he held a Research Fellowship funded by the Natural Environment Research Council at the University of Bristol, and he is chair of the A Rocha Conservation Science Advisory Council. He has appeared on BBC television's Countryfile and The One Show to promote his citizen science work.
Maitreyabandhu was ordained in 1990 and has written three books on Buddhism and three poetry collections with Blookaxe Books. His books on Buddhism include The Journey and the Guide: A Practical Course in Enlightenment. He is the founder of PoetryEast, an ongoing series of cultural events at the London Buddhist Centre exploring the meaning and value of the arts, whose guests have included Anthony Gormley, Marina Warner, Colm Tóibín, Don Paterson, Rowan Williams and Arundhathi Subramaniam. His poetry has won the Keats-Shelley Prize, the Basil Bunting Award, the Geoffrey Dearmer Prize, and the Ledbury Festival Poetry Competition.
HOXTON 253 proudly presents In Indra’s Net, a solo exhibition by the London-based artist and writer Justin Coombes. In this project, Coombes imagines India’s Falgu river a millennium from now, significantly altered by climate change. Two fictional botanists collect data, make scans using a mysterious machine, and take notes during an expedition near where, circa 500 BCE, the Buddha is said to have achieved Enlightenment.
A six-minute animated film features the scientists in rhyming dialogue with each other, questioning their work, the moral problems science must address, and its relationship to spirituality and power. Indra, the God of the Heavens in some Hindu and Buddhist belief systems, has a net which explains the interconnectedness of all phenomena in the universe: the senior botanist uses it here as a metaphor for biodiversity. A shorter, looped animation displayed alongside the main film appears to show the ‘soul scans’ that the pair record with their machine. In the main exhibition space, a number of framed stills from the film show us this fictional world in detail, imagining how fauna and flora might evolve during the next thousand years.
Coombes became known for his fine art photography, and this is the first time since his childhood that he has exhibited his drawings: the exhibition is in part a homage to the science fiction comics and films of the artist’s youth such as 2000AD and Return of the Jedi. Through combining his drawings with his own poetry, Coombes playfully and hopefully envisions a future in which the urgent climate issues we must address have created a ‘spiritual science’, in which humanity’s needs are balanced with those of all other species.
The exhibition and associated programme is supported using public funding by the National Lottery through Arts Council England.
About the artist
Coombes is a visual artist, writer and lecturer. Most of his art plays on the relationship between word and image. He works across poetry, drawing, print, photography, film, installation and publishing.
Key themes are love, mythology and memory; his fictional characters range from kingfishers and crows to Hindu deities.
Previous solo exhibition venues include Paradise Row and the RCA. Group exhibition, reading and performance venues include Onassis Cultural Centre, Athens, Turner Contemporary, Margate and LM Projects, Los Angeles. His work is in a large number of collections in the UK and beyond, including the British Government Art Collection, Ernst and Young, and the David and Indrė Roberts Collection. Prizes include the £20,000 BOC Emerging Artist Award and the Flash Forward award, Magenta Foundation. Grants include Arts Council England, Fenton Arts Trust, AHRC and Oxford University’s Research Centre in the Humanities. He is a visiting tutor at the Ruskin School of Art, University of Oxford.