Through this practice-based research, Hicks introduced new interpretations and theoretical frameworks to consider representations of landscape and the sublime. Implicit in this investigation was the juxtaposition of different perceptions of time: those steeply accelerated through the impact of technologies (Jonathan Crary, 2014) (presented here through repeatedly updating, utilitarian website images), and those decelerated (paused by the contemplative, embodied process of making the drawing). This gathers processes and notions of landscape from previous eras together with modern practical technologies: drawing together the banality of road traffic websites with traditional romantic notions of painted landscapes. Interpreted through a hand drawn process, the finished works uniquely partnered throwaway, temporary images of Icelandic roadsides with art historical dialogues.
Hicks’ investigations into the phenomenology of perception and the embodied process of making (Merleau Ponty, 1964), uncovered a means by which the image was able to reference elements connected to the landscape, and the making of meaning through marks particular to drawing, while tapping into the weight and depth of painting’s history. The images were renderings of landscapes on the edge of disappearance, vulnerable to disintegration, caught, through the drawing process, between their unmaking and making – a contemporary experience of landscape.
In 2015, Hicks was invited by Marco Cali and Xing Zhang to show selected drawings from this research in an exhibition showcasing estimable examples of contemporary drawing – the first devoted to contemporary drawing from Britain to be shown in China. While traditional European drawing has been a foundation for Chinese academic study, this show introduced the Chinese public to recent developments in Western drawing. It featured David Hockney and Lucien Freud, artists already known and influential in China, together with artists such as Rose Wylie.
Two conference papers, a book chapter and a group show in Tilburg (Netherlands) have followed this original output.