Rachel Cattle's drawing-based practice is an exploration of emotion, memory and association - the relationship between the music we listen to that replays feelings about people and places in our past, the films we watch, the books we read and the art we engage with that moves us and shapes our view of the world, and underlying it all an ambivalent darkness in which there may be security but from which there is also the desire to escape.
Channelled through the darkness of Cattle's immediate, expressive graphite marks all these references merge and converge. Translated as series of drawings on paper these emotions become visual metaphor - the lone wolf, an empty swing, a bare mountainous landscape. In more recent drawings the darkness itself has become the metaphor, filling the page in a dense pencil swirl, a maelstrom from which emerge ghostly female figures, half-formed, often only heads and hands. Again there is ambivalence, these figures don't seem afraid of the dark, perhaps because they know they are part of it.
Cattle's drawings also extend into short films and related hand-drawn comic books made in collaboration with artist Steve Richards. In these the dialogue is further opened up between the visual language of film, philosophical thought, music and the fluidity of time and memory. In 'Same Old Scene', 2007 half-remembered images associated in film with emotion, romance and escape are drawn onto card and animated with a hand-held, low-fi aesthetic - clouds scudding across the moon, a train travelling across a mountain track. As with memory there may be no fixed narrative, but set to a collage of popular music that evokes this same mood, the film investigates the idea that there may be fixed emotional archetypes, that exist in and across all artforms. 'Out of the Dark and into the Night', 2008, again draws from popular film, to highlight visual elements of the everyday that also function as psychological portals - allowing thoughts to drift to other places and maybe other worlds - the mash mountain that Roy Neary (played by Richard Dreyfus) is compelled to construct in 'Close Encounters of the Third Kind' as a calling to an alien meeting, the fizzing of the Alka Seltzer that Robert De Niro's character Travis Bickle plops into his glass of water in 'Taxi Driver' resembling a swirling galaxy. The end shot is a journey into a tunnel, but there is no light at the end. We may try to transcend who we are, but it seems that there is still no escape from the darkness.