This assemblage of objects creates a treasure trove indeed – appearing at first as a random jumble, their interplay gradually reveals an intentionality in their relationship as well as in their form and stylisation. The eye is first drawn irresistibly to the conch shell at the centre; once home to a tropical mollusc and now a beautiful found object. The lobster appears to float above it, but this is the deep brick-red of a cooked lobster, not the indigo of a live one. The ‘snake’ seems more like twisting vine carved into the form of a snake and leads the eye next to the wine bottle – empty. All of these objects are in their second life, transfigured from their original forms, as if, like Aerial’s Song from The Tempest, they have ‘suffered a sea change, into something rich and strange’. The snake’s tail points the viewer to the lefthand side of the painting, where a ginger jar hovers against a defiantly pink foreground which echoes the interior of the shell, and a jug occupies a new plane of the painting. The four empty vessels – jar, jug, shell and wine bottle – form an intriguing quartet, and unite the two areas of the painting, creating a balanced and harmonious composition.
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