Richard Butchins recently exhibited a selection of his Floricide artworks with PhotoHastings, creating an atmospheric installation punctuated by a soundscape adapting the score of Erik Satie’s music. Colin Hambrook immersed themselves in the work uncovering disability readings in these strangely beautiful images influenced by the Vanitas tradition.
Walking into Richard Butchins Floricide environment is an immersive and emotionally charged experience. There is a critical and urgent intelligence to what the artist has produced here, informed by his autism and passion to communicate a message around the inherent ignorance of ableist society.
St Andrews Mews is in an arty quarter of Hastings which includes Mews Gallery One, a higgledy-piggledy shell of a building inhabited by local artists. Butchins took one of the rooms in this DIY space and made it his own, painting the walls dark grey and a deep red, installing bespoke lighting to atmospheric effect and spotlighting a series of ten Floricide images. A soundscape reimagining the music of Erik Satie accompanied the room, immersing the audience in a dirge-like but beautiful intense melancholia, funereal but elegant.
Overhead orange lights give a semblance of walking down Edwardian streets under gaslight. There is potent drama here, augmented with strategically placed 19th century crutches and wheelchair as clues to the message behind the work. The images of cut flowers seem a perfect symbol for the dilemma disability represents and the internal and external trauma that arises from lived experience.
Instalation video of the exhibition by Richard Butchins.