Mark Swords: The Hinterlands

27 March - 26 April 2014

The Hinterlands brings together a body of disparate artworks from 2009 to the present day. This work has not been made with any single unifying theme or goal in mind. The individual pieces that comprise The Hinterlands might best be described as a series of potential answers to seemingly random questions eg. “Can I make two paintings one painting?” or“What is a box that can’t be opened?”


I was about ten. One day I saw that my friend had put a bowl, a cup, a teapot, and a square carton on the edge of a well, had filled them all with water, and was looking at them attentively. 

What are you doing?” I asked him. And he answered me with a question in turn

What shape is water?” 

Water does not have any shape!” I said laughing. “It takes the shape you give it”. [1]


This small story above serves as an analogy in Andrea Camilleri’s novel “The Shape of Water” in order to demonstrate the difficulty of defining truth. The suggestion is that truth can, depending on one’s viewpoint and circumstances, be changed or reshaped like water. The quote highlights a beautifully ambiguous grey area, an aspect of our world, which cannot be defined in terms of black and white.

Outside of the story’s analogous intent it is also of interest as a description of an experiment. In order to answer a fascinating but potentially useless question, “What is the shape of water”, the boy has set up an experiment. He then sits to consider the results. This essentially describes what I do as an artist.

[1]The Shape of Water, Andrea Camilleri, 2003.