Traumatic Objects


3 pen and paint pen drawings on fabriano paper, 200 x 150cm.

Traumatic Objects is a series of large scale drawings evolved from previous series Man Stupid, See Nature, Thought Sequence and Theory of Mind.

These former works were influenced by the captive gorilla Koko’s short sign language speech at the COP21 climate change conference in 2014. Koko was taught to transmit a message at COP21 of protection for the planet that warned humans of the greater damage they could cause to the natural environment. Traumatic Object 1 recalls Koko’s shape and gravity as she sits to deliver the message she has been taught to sign. She has become a yellow mass ‘displayed’ on a blue support. Her animal surface has become planetary with fissures, outcrops, eruptions, plains, mottled and bruised areas. Multiple lines sprout and wind, point and break.

The detailed drawings both invite close scrutiny and the need to stand well back to read the image as a whole. There is both no indication of animal remaining and there is nothing but animal on view. Traumatic Objects 2 & 3 further obscure reminders of gorilla, foregrounding instead the signs that she learned and Coutts’ embodiment of them. There is a dissonance in the drawings between blocked out underpainted forms and floating patterns of intricate fine lines that follow a separate logic.  The work attempts to develop a visual language for the complexities and implicit trauma of this interspecies interaction.