How the Light Gets In

Jaqueline Houghton

A deeply metaphysical resonance imbues Seabastion Toast’s current works. They communicate a patient seeking of the light amidst the ‘shadowlands’ of emotional and painterly challenges. There is an understanding that life’s cycles will in due course bring a return to the colours of joy. The exhibition’s title, How the Light Gets In, is derived from a Leonard Cohen song that had resonated with her personal experiences.


“The images are essentially collages of everyday moments,” Seabastion tells. “My goal is to create paintings that reveal themselves slowly. Initially, the works were an investigation into how light shapes a form and changes it. The way pattern could be used to flatten or deepen the depiction of 3D space was also a major consideration. I had been looking for the marriage of figuration and abstraction. By concerning myself with these formal elements, the meaning and metaphor developed alongside but not dependant on the work.”


“Making pictures is a mesmerizing activity for me,” Seabastion continues. “Placing patches of color next to each other and watching with incredulity as an image emerges is one of the most thrilling things that I do - carving light!”


There is not a fixed, preconceived narrative to the figurative works. For Seabastion the subject is entirely secondary. The components of her settings are abstracted in vivid hues to suggest the movement of light across the canvas. The viewer is obliged to ponder what the personages obscured amidst these kaleidoscopic arrays might symbolise and conceive a story for themselves.


“The patterning and manipulation of 3D space serves to plot a path for the viewer,” Seabastion explains. “Various aspects reveal themselves at different speeds so that a painting unfolds more like a piece of music or a poem. The imagery is built up slowly with lots of layers. Time is a very important element, both in the creation of the work and the viewing. I am interested in creating paintings that encourage the onlooker to take the time to observe, to slow the passage of time and thereby participate in a visual symphony.”  


Seabastion furthers that as in the figurative and interior works, her still life renditions are not so much about the objects depicted but rather the attempt to arrange the elements as one would in an abstract painting. Moth and Yellow Tape is a fine example of such.


“The world is not static and the ever-shifting light is so elusive,” Seabastion imparts. “I am continually thinking about paint, about how we perceive things - how light rakes across a white wall, how the air can act as a prism and scatter rainbows. I want to take the viewer on an unhurried visual journey. Like the shifting conditions in light, focus and atmosphere, I chase the ethereal to gain a greater understanding of our existence.”


“Ring the bells that still can ring

Forget your perfect offering

There’s a crack, a crack in everything

That’s how the light gets in.” Leonard Cohen, Anthem