The Shadow Thing series consists of three hand-embroideries depicting imagined black holes. All hand-sewn by the artist, each took six weeks to complete.
Shadow Thing borrows its title from a sentence in The Invention of Solitude by Paul Auster, a book written in response to his Father’s death. Writing about himself in the third person the line reads ‘Behind each real thing there was a shadow thing...therefore, it happened, it often happened, that his life no longer seemed to dwell in the present’. McDowell is interested in the multiple layers of time, memory and association which play out adjacent to our present experience. The discipline of embroidery - repetitive, cyclical, domestic - communicates this everyday phenomenon.
The subject at the centre of the series, the black hole, serves as a metaphor. Black holes are associated with the commonly regarded theory that, ripping through the fabric of space-time, they have the potential to act as vehicles for time-travel. Here they are reframed in the context of another universe - our emotional experience. The work is a meditation on a want that often accompanies an unwanted absence - the desire to travel back. The act of sewing plots the journey through this feeling. The destination provides a hypnotic and introspective experience for the viewer, a portal through which to enter the mind’s space.