“Take Me Out Of This Dull World!” Ponderings upon Mark Leckey, Transcendence, and the Thin Places Within Urban Landscapes…

Lady Liminal Dialects of the Hum, Folklore, Future Ghosts, Landscape, Memory, Surrealism, Technology, Underpasses are Liminal Places, Wanderings, Wyrd

“I had a sense of being propelled into the future while at the same time reversed into the prehistoric past. A past which held an animistic idea of the world, in which rocks and trees could speak”

Leckey, in Wallis & Coustou 2019,16

This week, I was lucky enough to be invited by the Turner Prize winning artist, Mark Leckey, to attend the opening night of his latest exhibition. Of course, I leapt at the chance as I have long been an admirer of Mark’s work, especially Dream English Kid, 1964-1999 AD (2015), which has influenced my own creative practice enormously.

Leckey and I may have grown up at opposite ends of the country, Mark in the North-West of England, myself in Hampshire and the Isle of Wight, but we see and experience landscape, I believe, very similarly. Landscapes that are perceived by many as dystopian, dismal, grey, intimidating, are, for us, alive with possibilities.

Underpasses, motorway flyovers, bus stops, the edgelands of housing estates, towns and cities are places of potential, for myself and, I believe, Leckey too. Spaces where rites of passage are undertaken, where portals manifest, allowing those brave enough, to cross thresholds into deep time, initiating connection with those who once were, and those who are yet to come.

Photo: Lady Liminal/Original image: Mark Leckey

Hurling yourself through the glass of a bus stop would be considered by many as wanton vandalism, violence undertaken after engaging in drinking and/or drug-taking. The latter, acts considered deviant by the majority, if not consumed in appropriate measures, within the ‘right’ contexts. Yet, for myself, and possibly Leckey too, leaping through the bus stop’s glass is a rite of passage. A potentially dangerous act, a ritual undertaken in front of your peers to prove your ‘bravery’, your worth, to the group. Breaking through the glass, breaking through the threshold; childhood to adulthood, outsider to member of the Inner Circle.

Photo: Lady Liminal,/Original Image: Mark Leckey
Photo: Lady Liminal/Original image: Mark Leckey

Throughout time, rites of passage and Shamanic connection have been facilitated by the ingestion of alcohol and narcotics, accompanied by pounding beats. In the deep past, these cerebral expanders, consciousness accelerators, consisted of natural ingredients; funghi, plants, venoms, drums. Today, LSD, glue, ‘poppers’, and ‘laughing gas’ are just some of the elements deemed essential for connecting with the beyond. Alongside these, pulsating, repetitive rhythms resonate from Bluetooth speakers, car stereos, and beatboxes, the modern urban counterparts of Shamanic hand-drums. Awakening the spirits, the forebears, those yet to manifest. Driving the initiate onwards, encouraging them to break on through, physically, and spiritually.

Photo: Lady Liminal/Original image: Mark leckey

Whenever I engage with Leckey’s work, I feel that I’m home. Dare I say it but, for me, I see the Liminal Worlds within Mark’s landscapes. Topographies where Neolithic megalithic tombs and stone circles connect with concrete flyovers and underpasses. The materials may be different, the design too, to some extent, but the intentions are the same. Places of transcendence, ‘Thin Places’, where The Hum beats out the pulse, intense and strong. Deep connection through the physical, metaphysical, technological, and temporal. Landscapes where Sodium-Vapour streetlights and elevated, illuminated, motorway signs pepper the night skies, fixed constellations within the urban firmament, guiding those traversing the pathways and leys. Where security mirrors and bus stops are portals to the beyond, and radio transmitters, pylons, and substations connect us with the universe.

Image: Lady Liminal
Image: Lady Liminal
Image: Lady Liminal
Image: Lady Liminal

Within these worlds, entities from beyond appear in many guises. The Fae are no longer restricted to standing by roadsides, wearing only velvet and silk to lure away innocents, whose only error is a longing to dance with these radiant beings. For here, they don tracksuits and trainers, lurk within underpasses and motorway flyovers, tempting those who pass by, with dazzling smiles, and seductive sonics seeping from their Boomboxes. ADIDAS – All Day I Dream About Slipping (away…)

Photo: Lady Liminal/Original image: Mark Leckey
Photo: Lady Liminal/Original image: Mark Leckey
Photo: Lady Liminal/Original image: Mark Leckey

“It is only by being willing to shed the somatic, to step away from the rational, to take the leap and go deep, that we can fully connect. Channelling childhood dreams and imaginings, alongside adolescent trauma, and adult fears, has unlocked realms that my young self would never have thought possible. It’s not always easy, at times it can be terrifying, bordering on the preternatural, but it is always truly Empyrean…”

Lady Liminal: Ponderings Upon Losing Yourself To Find The Way: 2021

I often speak about being prepared to lose yourself to find the way, and Mark Leckey’s imagination and creativity, helps me to leap further, and deeper, than any other artist, except perhaps, Paul Nash, who I personally see vibrating through Leckey’s work. We now live in a world of hashtags, buzzwords, and snappy sentences, ‘The Ordinary Is Extraordinary’ being one that radiates from my various screens regularly. However, when I click on these links (I can’t stop myself), I am, more often than not, exposed to highly manipulated gardens, logistical infrastructures and urban architecture that have been surgically enhanced to within an inch of their lives, Brutalism subjected to such heavy doses of visual Botox that I often can’t recognise the building.

The ordinary is extraordinary, whether it’s an underpass, a pylon, a car park, or an industrial estate. And why? Because they are places of transition, places of potential, place of transcendence, liminal places. Yes, I may add HyperSaturation, Analogue noise, and glitching to some of my work, both written, sonic, and visual, because this is how this synesthete sees these things, but the original subject is always visible, for those who choose to engage. And this is because, to me, these things, these places, truly are beautiful, whether viewed in howling wind, driving rain, in bright sunlight, or under tenebrous skies. They enchant and entrance me, expand my imagination, and connection with the world(s), and this is why Mark Leckey’s work sings to me, because I think, I hope, he feels the same way too.

Mark Leckey’s new exhibition runs until 30th April, at CABINET, 132 Tyers Street, Vauxhall, London, SE11 5HS: Wednesday – Saturday, 12:00 – 6:00PM.


Wallis, C. & Coustou, E. eds., 2019. In: Mark Leckey: O’ Magic Power of Bleakness. London: Tate Publishing.

Ponderings Upon Losing Yourself To Find The Way: 2021