Nigel Cooke Pace Live trio
Pace Live

In Conversation

Nigel Cooke, Max Porter, Robert Macfarlane

Wednesday, Dec 14
6 PM
5 Hanover Square

Event Details:

In Conversation: Nigel Cooke, Max Porter, Robert Macfarlane
Wednesday, Dec 14
6 PM
5 Hanover Square

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On the occasion of Nigel Cooke’s exhibition Atlas with Butterfly at Pace’s London gallery, the artist joins writers Max Porter and Robert Macfarlane for an intimate conversation about their multifaceted practices and the wild, mystical landscapes that inspire their work which spans painting, drawing, film, theatre, poetry, music, and writing.

Max Porter, whose acclaimed novels include Grief is a Thing with Feathers and Lanny, is a highly imaginative and poetic writer who relishes in the capacity of language both as a vehicle for storytelling and as textural form equivalent to an impasto brushstroke. His last novel The Death of Francis Bacon, abstractly envisions the painter’s final days in a convent hospital in Madrid, translating Bacon’s intense visual language into hypnotic, masterfully written vignettes.

Through his adventures and many books, Robert Macfarlane has continually fathomed the depths of the systems that connect living beings with the land – exploring everything from mountains to catacombs to ask a central question – in the words of Jonas Salk – Are we being good ancestors? Macfarlane has stated: ‘for nearly two decades I have been writing about the relationships of landscape and the human heart.’

At the centre of Nigel Cooke’s artistic practice is a fascination with the way information travels from the brain, through the body and nervous system, onto the canvas and back again. His work is a philosophical examination of the ways in which consciousness and subconsciousness interact to create a painting. Where Macfarlane’s work is rooted in physical exploration and Porter’s novels begin with a drawing, Cooke’s artworks begin with a vivid, often unexpected, encounter with wildlife.

Despite varied practices and interests, all three panellists are concerned with what is to find meaning through our relationship to the landscape and how art might provide a space to ask questions and mine for answers.

Nigel Cooke Portrait

Photo by Damian Griffiths

Nigel Cooke

Nigel Cooke is known for evocative works that merge figurative forms with abstract and elemental atmospherics. Since the late 1990s, Cooke has explored and stretched the boundaries of figurative painting, creating a highly diverse and distinctive body of work.

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Porter, Max - Author Photo Alternative - (c) Betty Bhandari

Photo by Betty Bhandari

Max Porter

Max Porter is the author of four novels and his work has been translated into thirty-one languages. His first novel, Grief Is the Thing with Feathers, won the won the Sunday Times/Peter, Fraser + Dunlop Young Writer of the Year, the International Dylan Thomas Prize, the Europese Literatuurprijs and the BAMB Readers’ Award and was shortlisted for the Guardian First Book Award and the Goldsmiths Prize. His second novel, Lanny, was a Sunday Times Top 10 bestseller, was long-listed for the 2019 Booker Prize and the 2019 Wainwright Prize, shortlisted for the 2019 Gordon Burn Prize and shortlisted for both Waterstones and Foyles Book of the Year 2019. His third book, The Death of Francis Bacon, was praised as ‘a miniature masterpiece’, and ‘a feat of empathy, imagination and literary brio’. His new novel, Shy, will be published in April 2023. Max frequently collaborates with artists, theatre-makers and musicians; most recently he wrote the short film All of this Unreal Time for the actor Cillian Murphy, and the pamphlet It’s Going to Be a Bright New Day with Bonny 'Prince' Billy. Max lives in England.

Robert Macfarlane Headshot, Alex Turner

Photo by Alex Turner

Robert Macfarlane

Robert Macfarlane is the author of books about nature, place, language and people including Underland, Landmarks, The Old Ways and Mountains of the Mind. His work has won prizes around the world, been widely adapted for music, film, television, radio and theatre, and he has also written films including River and Mountain, both narrated by Willem Dafoe. He has collaborated with artists including Olafur Eliasson and Stanley Donwood, and with the artist Jackie Morris he co-created the bestselling books of illustrated poetry, The Lost Words and The Lost Spells. He has worked on songs and albums with musicians including Cosmo Sheldrake, Karine Polwart and Johnny Flynn, with whom he released an album, Lost In The Cedar Wood, in 2021. He is a Fellow of Emmanuel College, University of Cambridge.

  • Pace Live — In Conversation: Nigel Cooke, Max Porter, Robert Macfarlane, Dec 1, 2022