A drawing, a story, and a poem go for a walk: Mariana Castillo Deball curates the Towner Collection

In our latest Towner Collection show, artist Mariana Castillo Deball (b.1975) delved deep into the Towner Collection to discover works that have rarely been displayed and has presented these alongside familiar and much-loved depictions of the Sussex landscape. 

Castillo Deball was instantly drawn to Leslie Moffat Ward’s The Long Man of The Downs, 1943, a modest print of the larger-than-life hill figure. This print is central to the exhibition and continues her fascination with geoglyphs — large-scale drawings in the landscape that have informed her England’s Creative Coast Commission here in Eastbourne. 

Interventions in the landscape, real and imagined, are a theme that runs through her selection, ranging from mysterious hill figures to depictions of the land as an agricultural environment that has been engineered and shaped over centuries. Harold Mockford’s Eastbourne, 1958, and John Lake’s Land and Sea reveal a latticework of fields and interlocking streets from an aerial perspective. Closer to earth, Val M. Ewens has captured a sense of pattern in the obedient crops of Midday Harvest and Harvest Completed, both 1978. 

Landscape is explored as a symbolic territory that is constantly being altered, manipulated, and harvested, this concept is reflected in Tom Phillips’s A Humument. In an endeavour spanning fifty years, Phillips drew, painted, and collaged over the pages of a Victorian novel to create a new story within the story, with a new protagonist. 

Animals are often omitted from depictions of the countryside, they have been reintroduced here through a variety of works featuring agricultural animals, domestic pets, and their human companions, including Kathleen Walne’s Girl with Cat, and Gertrude Hermes’s Fighting Dogs, 1924. 

Mariana Castillo Deball takes a kaleidoscopic approach to her practice, mediating between science, archaeology, and the visual arts and exploring the way in which these disciplines describe the world. Her installations, performances, sculptures, and editorial projects arise from the recombination of different languages that seek to understand the role objects play in our identity and history. Her works result from a long research process, allowing her to study the different ways in which a historical object can be read as it presents a version of reality that informs and blends into a polyphonic panorama. Seeking to initiate a dialogue with institutions and museums beyond contemporary art, she collaborates with ethnographic collections, libraries, and historical archives. She often produces multiples —books or objects with different uses and formats— to explore how they might generate new territories. Weaving her way through the fields of anthropology, philosophy, and literature, Castillo Deball draws inspiration from a wide range of sources as she engages in the exchange of knowledge as a transforming process for everyone involved.

Mariana Castillo Deball earned a BFA from the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México in 1997. In 2003, she completed a postgraduate program at Jan van Eyck Academie in the Netherlands. Deball has been awarded with the Prix de Rome (2004), Zurich Art Prize (2012), a fellowship at the Henry Moore Institute (2012), and the Preis der Nationalgalerie für junge Kunst (2013). She was an artist in residency at the Berliner Künstlerprogramm in Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst (DAAD) in 2011. She lives and works in Berlin.


Leslie Moffat Ward, The Long Man of The Downs (detail), 1943. © The Artist’s Estate. Towner Eastbourne.
Roy Trollope, Falling, 1995. ©The Artist’s Estate. Towner Eastbourne
Harold Mockford, Eastbourne, 1958. ©Harold Mockford. Towner Eastbourne
Edward Bawden, The Boy, Eric Ravilious in his Studio at Redcliffe Road, 1929. ©The Estate of Edward Bawden. Towner Eastbourne
Eric Ravilious, Muggery Pope, 1934. Towner Eastbourne


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