The black dog and the lighthouse

October, 2014

Then too you cannot spend an hour alone;
No company's more hateful than your own
You dodge and give yourself the slip; you seek
In bed or in your cups from care to sneak:
In vain: the black dog follows you, and hangs
Close on your flying skirts with hungry fangs.

~ Horace, ‘Satire 2.5’, The Satires, Epistles and Art of Poetry, c33-35BC


Dear Friends,

This is an exhibition about depression, but don’t worry, it’s also about resilience. I wasn’t depressed when I made this work. I haven’t stopped creating in some form since my last solo exhibition, Two Crosses, in 2008, so I’m not sure I’ve truly been depressed. Depression seems to have many grades, it’s hard to tell what shade of blue you were in hindsight.

There are a few reasons why there has been a large gap since Two Crosses – the emotional fall out of having a solo exhibition, feeling like there is nothing worthy to say, the Internet, feeling burnt out, poverty, cynicism, loneliness, a crisis of confidence, self-doubt, feeling lost in the woods… you know, things like that.

Then there was the ‘Great Recession’ of 2008: economic depression is depressing. Cuts to arts funding have been deep and have affected many friends and contemporaries. Six years later we are officially out of the recession but things are no better and I feel we are living in dark times. Unhappiness, struggle, injustice, violence and media manipulation swirls all around us.

When things are bad it’s hard to be alone. As an artist I’ve worked by myself for hours, days, weeks and years. Not talking to anyone for a whole day ends up taking its toll. However solitude has been necessary for me to create good work, it’s only recently that I’ve been finding it difficult and counterproductive. Some say it’s romantic to be working alone and being creative, and whilst it can be rewarding I’m not sure individualism is the way forward.

Maintaining the motivation and confidence to produce art isn’t easy and quite often it isn’t even in your control. Between 2008 and 2011 I didn’t want to paint or draw. This was a difficult period because my emotional outlet had been turned off. I had to force myself to create in other mediums (music and animation). I also began to collaborate with others and found that very helpful.

This exhibition is a broken and scattered narrative; scenes from an unmade film chopped up and rearranged by a chimp. Some paintings are single moments of a half-imagined story, others are fragments of social commentary, and the rest are simply abstract thoughts relating to something personal or domestic. There are reoccurring themes and iconography, such as campfires, lizards, parenthood, fear, love, death, sadness and nature. This work is the result of feeling good about putting paint onto paper again.

Some imagery has been stolen from the Internet, some has been stolen from my mind. You steal when you are in need, and you get only what is available to you. When you are recovering, restriction can be healthy.

I’ll finish with a note that I wrote to myself when I began to paint again: “The forest knows where you are, and that is all that matters”.

I hope this message finds you warm, safe, content and resilient.

Love,

Daryl Waller. Oct 2014


This exhibition was held at the Millennium Gallery, St Ives, Cornwall in 2014.

Here are the forty one pieces that made up the exhibition.

Click here to view in more detail

Or email me via the contact page.

The black dog and the lighthouse  
Watercolour, ink on paper, 39 x 55 cm

The black dog and the lighthouse
Watercolour, ink on paper, 39 x 55 cm

Black dog # 1  
Gouache on paper, 18 x 26 cm

Black dog # 1
Gouache on paper, 18 x 26 cm

Black dog # 2  
Gouache on paper, 18 x 26 cm

Black dog # 2
Gouache on paper, 18 x 26 cm

Black dog # 3  
Gouache on paper, 26 x 36 cm

Black dog # 3
Gouache on paper, 26 x 36 cm

Birth of an inverted mountain  
Gouache, ink, watercolour on paper, 18 x 26 cm

Birth of an inverted mountain
Gouache, ink, watercolour on paper, 18 x 26 cm

After the birth  
Gouache on paper, 26 x 36 cm

After the birth
Gouache on paper, 26 x 36 cm

Father iceberg  
Gouache on paper, 26 x 36 cm

Father iceberg
Gouache on paper, 26 x 36 cm

Birth of the Lizard  
Gouache on paper, 26 x 36 cm

Birth of the Lizard
Gouache on paper, 26 x 36 cm

Send me a daughter  
Gouache on paper, 26 x 36 cm

Send me a daughter
Gouache on paper, 26 x 36 cm

Berries  
Gouache, watercolour on paper, 18 x 26 cm

Berries
Gouache, watercolour on paper, 18 x 26 cm

Sadness (drunk snake trying to be a flower)  
Watercolour on paper, 18 x 26 cm

Sadness (drunk snake trying to be a flower)
Watercolour on paper, 18 x 26 cm

Mother, child & Father  
Gouache on paper, 26 x 18 cm

Mother, child & Father
Gouache on paper, 26 x 18 cm

The Eldest Son  
Gouache, ink, watercolour, collage on paper, 26 x 36 cm

The Eldest Son
Gouache, ink, watercolour, collage on paper, 26 x 36 cm

Floating lizard #1  
Gouache on paper, 26 x 36 cm

Floating lizard #1
Gouache on paper, 26 x 36 cm

Floating lizard #2  
Gouache on paper, 36 x 26 cm

Floating lizard #2
Gouache on paper, 36 x 26 cm

Oni in the desert  
Gouache on paper, 36 x 26 cm

Oni in the desert
Gouache on paper, 36 x 26 cm

Man in grave  
Gouache on paper, 18 x 26 cm

Man in grave
Gouache on paper, 18 x 26 cm

Couple kissing in dry field  
Gouache on paper, 26 x 36 cm

Couple kissing in dry field
Gouache on paper, 26 x 36 cm

Man with fire  
Gouache on paper, 18 x 26 cm

Man with fire
Gouache on paper, 18 x 26 cm

Chimp discovers fire  
Gouache on paper, 26 x 36 cm

Chimp discovers fire
Gouache on paper, 26 x 36 cm

Half a man in the woods  
Graphite on paper, 36 x 26 cm

Half a man in the woods
Graphite on paper, 36 x 26 cm

Man in nature  
Ink, watercolour on paper, 26 x 36 cm

Man in nature
Ink, watercolour on paper, 26 x 36 cm

Spite  
Gouache on paper, 18 x 26 cm

Spite
Gouache on paper, 18 x 26 cm

Snakes  
Gouache on paper, 36 x 26 cm

Snakes
Gouache on paper, 36 x 26 cm

A life out of reach  
Gouache on paper, 36 x 26 cm

A life out of reach
Gouache on paper, 36 x 26 cm

Don't look too far ahead  
Gouache on board, 26 x 36 cm

Don't look too far ahead
Gouache on board, 26 x 36 cm

Campsite  
Gouache on paper, 18 x 26 cm

Campsite
Gouache on paper, 18 x 26 cm

Black hole  
Gouache on paper, 26 x 36 cm

Black hole
Gouache on paper, 26 x 36 cm

Campfire mugging  
Gouache on paper, 26 x 18 cm

Campfire mugging
Gouache on paper, 26 x 18 cm

Cavalryman and Native American  
Gouache on paper, 26 x 18 cm

Cavalryman and Native American
Gouache on paper, 26 x 18 cm

Cave by the shore  
Ink, watercolour on paper, 37 x 56 cm

Cave by the shore
Ink, watercolour on paper, 37 x 56 cm

Man and woman on hill  
Gouache on paper, 26 x 36 cm

Man and woman on hill
Gouache on paper, 26 x 36 cm

Be the ugliness at her side  
Gouache on paper, 26 x 36 cm

Be the ugliness at her side
Gouache on paper, 26 x 36 cm

Grave digger at dusk  
Gouache on paper, 26 x 18 cm

Grave digger at dusk
Gouache on paper, 26 x 18 cm

Protect me you  
Gouache on paper, 36 x 26 cm

Protect me you
Gouache on paper, 36 x 26 cm

The creep  
Gouache on paper, 36 x 26 cm

The creep
Gouache on paper, 36 x 26 cm

Stalker  
Gouache, ink, glitter on paper, 35 x 47 cm

Stalker
Gouache, ink, glitter on paper, 35 x 47 cm

Beaten clown  
Gouache on paper, 36 x 26 cm

Beaten clown
Gouache on paper, 36 x 26 cm

Go tell it on the mountain  
Gouache on paper . 26 x 18 cm

Go tell it on the mountain
Gouache on paper . 26 x 18 cm

Eternally melting man  
Gouache on paper, 36 x 26 cm

Eternally melting man
Gouache on paper, 36 x 26 cm

Burn brighter in the dark  
Ink, watercolour on paper, 26 x 36 cm

Burn brighter in the dark
Ink, watercolour on paper, 26 x 36 cm