Heather B. Swann’s Last night on Earth, 2024, builds a personal poetics of sensation, emotion and thought through sculpture, painting and drawing. At the centre of the installation is a series of paintings depicting vast pools of darkness – mysterious voids and places of quiet contemplation. For Swann, these forms have a physical weight almost equal to the instinctive conceptual weight of the human figures that share the same pictorial plane. Adjacent sculptures convey a powerful sense of being anchored and tethered to the earth, but simultaneously of a deliberate drifting and dissolution.
Swann has also ordered the mass of recorded ideas in her studio to create a new set of drawings. Over decades, the daily practice of drawing has generated stacks of finished works, studies and notebooks filled with black shapes and dark texts. Things there is no one to tell, 2024, wanders through this extensive archive in a quest to gather loose threads, in particular, thoughts about ageing and fears of losing the capacity to understand and remember.
In popular culture, the term ‘last night on earth’ evokes the urgency of final moments, last chances, or the last days of humanity. It might be an impending catastrophe or cherishing a night with a lover. In Swann’s work, the phrase speaks to the resolution of the inner mind, to resolving outstanding issues, to preparing for a dignified exit. This finality might not always be death, but simply the moment that we seize in order to let it go.