In her series “Flesch and Blood,” Scottish artist Heather Nevary uses the painterly language of the Northern Renaissance to explore the complex and doleful moment, in which the innocence of childhood disintegrates, and the objects once held so dear, such as fantastical doll houses or toy animals, fall into oblivion or take on dubious agency.
The Dutch Golden Age was the first era in which portraits of children were painted, suggesting the 17th century gave rise to the modern concept of childhood. It is for this reason, that Nevary’s choice to dress her children in 17th century Dutch costume is so poignant. Furthermore, her color palette of light, yet other-worldly sky blues and bright pastels contribute to a playful aura indicative of childhood. It is in these lighter moods however, in which Nevary grows grisly tension. Despite their virtuous environments, Nevary’s children look out with sinister and beady eyes as birds hang by their necks. Siamese twins light play houses on fire and animals fall victim to a child’s curiosity. With these eerie and uncomfortable scenes, Nevary conveys not physical moments in time, but rather the stark change in disposition that occurs between childhood and adolescence.