The bleached and broken stones that make up the Parthenon frieze as we see it today are like an immense beautiful jigsaw from which innumerable pieces have been lost. Those absences are poignant because they remind us that we are seeing isolated pieces of a distant, seemingly perfect world that can never be recaptured in its pristine entirety.
But this vision of the shattered stones is a romantic creation.
The colour choices made by ancient artists can seem garish to modern eyes, while the Parthenon itself is a war memorial, paid for with protection money. Over the centuries the magnificent temple and sculptures have suffered immense damage: some of it accidental, but mostly caused deliberately by vandals and warring factions.
The weathered stones that survive are facets of a historical process that stretches back 2,500 years. The stories they tell, recorded in the fractures and absences that inform Lines of Site, resonate richly with contemporary life.
For Loftus, the process of making the artworks involved the artistic decision to erase, destroy or replace areas of laboriously worked imagery, then layering the fragments to create new wholes.
Moreover, the opinions of visitors on the question of whether the Parthenon marbles belong in London or Athens also informed her approach: 'When I was drawing in the British Museum I was privileged to overhear many opinions on the subject, expressed by the many visitors who liked to come and stand next to me as I worked. As an artist, I felt it was my role to see and hear, while remaining as unobtrusive and unobserved as possible. That experience contributed to my title: Lines of Site.'
About the Artist
Debbie Loftus trained at the Chelsea School of Art and has a background in fine art, design and photography. She works on location and from her studio in London. Recent shows include the British Museum, London; Kings College, Cambridge; Ulriksdal Palace, Stockholm; and Tom Rowland fine art, London. Recent publications include Galileo 24 (2017), Six London Preludes (2017) and Clay: Themes and Variations from Ancient Mesopotamia (2018).