Friday, 24 December 2010

Artists' Statements, Boxes and the Death Of Reality

You’ll see that I’ve built lots of tiny little boxes and decorated them with little patterns and then arranged them into various shapes/structures.  It’s a thought that sprung into an idea then became a motivation and a full on and very overwhelmingly rational motive.
By sticking these boxes together I felt I would really, truly and very much BE achieving something.  That this would lead me towards the next step in an infinite amount of steps of achieving some solution to a problem that I can’t even properly locate or define.  A big problem which isn’t even there in a tangible sense but a problem which is somewhere……. Just not over there…… and it wasn’t and will not and can’t at all get solved by sticking boxes together.  The actual idea of solving this intensely big problem (the spiralling of existence and the “oh no, please, is this still happening!”) is a fine motive for a creative type.  Though it is beset with problems, one of them is that at times I feel like one big ego taking on the universe -  and ego is not as cool as it would like you to think it is.

Many art professionals have an idea of why they are doing their work, what it means and what it’s trying to say.  It’s actually quite important to have a section on your Artist CV explaining the artwork, contextualising it so it fits tidily into what should be thought about it and stressing what “them lot“ as viewers should be thinking - which is a bit silly as art is surely as much (if not more) about the viewer‘s interpretation.  To try to impose a notion of what it means is a bit URG!  What is usually imposed quite predictably is something along the lines of “when is reality not reality and when is this object not a object and when does art actually become art or is art an constituent of a larger conglomerate of a disparate swirling something.”  Except the real life version of this explanation is much longer, not quite as long as this blog entry is going to be but still quite long.  And less concise.  Which is really saying something as this is likely to be very inconcise.  So hold onto your hats as this is going to be a very bumpy and inconsistent ride.

It’s quite a difficult task for me to write an Artist’s Statement as I tend to be the sort of person who speaks before thinking about it - therefore my work is a case of action over thought.  Not to say that there isn’t an underlying method, process and idea behind whatever it is I’m doing... though it is usually just a lot of loud and incomprehensible ideas and yearnings, my brain working overtime on making these voidful nonsenses become an actual reality when the reality is - and this is the punch line (not a good one) - that I have no idea what reality is - so actualising my ideas into some sort of tangible personal truth is actually quite a hard task, which actually fails to support any pre-promised punch line because the task just goes on and on and on and on.  That’s probably why there are recurring ideas and shapes and textures repeating themselves over and over into more complex forms and why my work has led so deeply down the collage route. 

Every creation leads to a bending of my way of doing things, the work is actually the path towards deeper and more personal questioning and more questioning in regards to the undercurrent lacking and gaining and moving and stopping.  Of whatever it is that is bothering me.  Or sometimes not bothering me.  I think I've drawn up some good borderlines and agreements over the years so nowadays if I'm truly bothered by anyone it's usually me.  And I'm lovely company most of the time.  To myself at least.

Anyway the work seems to be all about some sort of continual process and “becoming” something and someone else, even though the threads can be taken back to some sort of source which is caused by me actually being alive and doing things from the moment it was decided that I would be encased into this flesh and bone containment vehicle:  that is my soul was thrown like everyone elses into a machine of biological impulse, controlled by unwanted chemical requirements.  Anyway I digress….  As it stands my Artist’s Statement runs like this:

“My work comprises of densely populated compositions of shape, colour and form delivered through various combinations of media and techniques, such as painting, drawing, animation, print and collage. New methods and techniques are explored and amalgamated into the process.

“My previous work informs the work that follows it, to the point that it is often cut and spliced into new forms and patterns, creating many unexpected textural permutations. This allows for potentially infinite developments upon a personal aesthetic and creates bright, fantastical, illogical and otherworldly abstract images. Which take the form of broken, fragmented, improbable landscapes and/or spinning and altering geometric bodies which grow and fall under the influences of external affect.”

And there you go.  It certainly needs a little more and doesn’t exactly sum up perfectly what it is that I actually do but it’s all fact.  It’s mostly about the process of creating my work rather than the actual “substance” of the work itself.  If I wrote anything about “substance” in my CV then I’d be pretty worried about anyone who hasn’t actually met me thinking I was a bit of a twerp.   Though the same could be said about this blog.  I hope nobody reading this actually thinks that I think that I know what I’m talking about, or that what I’m writing here is my definitive opinion or the nucleus of some strict guideline by which I think we should all run our lives by.  To be honest this is all just a long drawn out exercise to see if I can actually write down my thoughts and develop some sort of dialogue not just with the real world. but also with myself and my own ideas - so many of which are internal and undefined but by expressing my uncertainty and vagueness in words and being able analyse them then perhaps my ideas and my work in general will become more tangible and break into the real world and into become very real and good and solid and valid tangibilities.  The pictures of boxes I’ve been putting throughout this entry haven’t even been fully explained.  I’ve gone on a bit of a digression.  They are pretty photos though.  They were going to be little diaromas/designs for something bigger but then they joined together to become something else.  They are certainly better as photos than they are as sculpture.

So then, have a lovely Christmas anyone who is actually reading this on the day it's posted, for those reading after Christmas: well done for having a good Christmas without reading my babbling post on the internet.  Well done you.  And hope you had a lovely weekend.  I have done so far, despite me writing this babbling post on the internet.  2010 has actually been a very decent year for me, one of my best so far, in terms of if I were to rate the years of my life this one has been quite exceptional but it's all building up to something better, I've sold a few pictures, I've got my own art dealer person, I've got a solo exhibition next year, somehow there seems to be a decent chance that after all this time I might actually win after all.  If you and whatever others out there might be interested there's going to be an intense chess game going on soon, in the village square, a giant game of chess.  My wavering ego against the raging but ordered but chaotic contradiction of every single horrible thing ever.  It won't be a serious game, I'll likely tell jokes and lose really really badly but it's quite good fun to see my opponent taking itself so seriously.  Like it's some sort of all consuming "you must accept me!" truth.... undeniable and prison like.  By laughing at the horrible sneering universal truth there is a chance that we'll make it go away and stop being such a big bully and maybe it'll let us go outside for a bit as it'll realise that we don't want to play chess anymore.

Wednesday, 1 December 2010


A swan playfully nudging a set of gauzy painted flowers with an arched head winking it's "come to bed" eyes....  This photograph showcases this notion of beauty very well and it would be a very adequate gift for an elderly and sentimental relative but this lacks any kind of genuine reality, emotional punch or volume.  Though I'm sure the sculptor had no interest in giving this any weight, it was likely one of many products of a similar ilk.  Arranged in some countryside village shop on a battered old table, with a hundred of it's kind - in different positions - peering from flowers, watering cans and rocks suitably covered with the most appeasing coloured green moss.  Beautiful as these birds may be when seen separately it becomes very apparent that we are looking at a mass produced slave market.  I think I prefer my ornamental birds to be a little less exploited.

Which makes me wonder about this next one, not only is it pointless, vacuous and exploited... it is actually much, much more exploited when purchased because this bird is functional.  It also works as a bell, a very nice sounding tingling bell of the sort I would use to summon someone I have no authority over - in the hope of tricking them into thinking I have authority.  This poor, badly sculpted bird is forever chained to a gross bark textured bell with a nightmare-blue base.  It is forever at a beckoning to my whims.  The whims of me.  A sick state of affairs which would be even worse if the creature were actually alive.  It's even sadder for both the above that for all these birds enforced posturing on the shop shelves of horrible porcelain dealers, when they are actually bought and released into freedom (probably as a misguided gift) they are eventually taken to a charity shop in Wythenshawe and sold to myself for 50p each only for me to take photos and write a review that makes fun out of them. Obviously they know their time in my house is soon up and I'll be sending them back to a charity shop.  Though probably a charity shop in Chorlton which will charge a lot more for them.

The next, and last bird I will look at today, is a very classy thing, which fulfils both the roles of being ornamental and functional.  I'm not so sure he's exploited though, he looks as if he's been decently treated what with his age.  Through hard times and many years of movement he's now the last of his kind...  I think he might be based on an cartoon character, though not one I can recall.   He's functional in that he can be used as a money box, in fact there is a hole in the middle of his centre partin which leads into his complete and total emptiness.

I saw this at the weekend when I was at the Brick Lane Market in London and would have bought it if it was 50 pence.  It was, however, five pounds.  So I took a few essential photos and then walked away.  It says on the little bit of writing in front of his large pointy feet "TRUSTEE SAVINGS BANK" so perhaps this dropped into our world from an alternate universe where birds are in control of our finances... money birds... with big green eyes.  But let's face it, that really couldn't ever be true except for in my head, and even then the idea is only on a limited offer. 

It's very sad but I think my foray into the customer landscape of ornamental birds is proving to be making me quite cynical.  What was a potentially pleasant and joyful pursuit has actually turned out to have a dark underbelly.  It's like in that film Blue Velvet when the camera zooms in on the lovely suburban grass and finds it riddled with dirty worms. 

Tuesday, 23 November 2010


At the moment this is my most recent collage. It's a sequence of five interweaving A2 size pieces of paper. I'm thinking to frame it using clip frames and a long curtain rail.  I'm slightly tempted to continue the sequence and see how it progresses, as this piece has a narrative, like a story board, it conveys that something is happening and various factors are influencing other elements.  Quite simple. The circle falls apart from due to a rise of energy - light and/or temperature is in it's atmosphere and the matter involved is converted into new shapes and patterns.

Isn't that exciting? The old story of circular construct getting more energy, then disintegrating and leaving a waste product of hands and faces falling upwards and downwards and accumulating like sediment on the inside edges of unwashed cups and saucers.

So there it is.  Simple.  Except not really.  But I think that good art is made to look simple.  This work isn't as simplistic as I make it out to be.  It actually took quite a bit of thought, and I almost didn't bother finishing it because I found myself being given an exhibition next year all to myself and I need to work out precisely what I'm doing so it was very tempting to just not bother completing or even considering this sequence of works.  I may decide to carry it on further and further until it becomes some kind of 21st Century Waterlilies but instead of depicting waterlilies it's depicting the breaking down and displacement of clotted cells due to a hydrogen heat (and time) wave.  Hmmm...  Think I've just convinced myself to do more.  But then again where does the story go from here.  Should I show the construction of a civilisation.  If you look at the last image you can actually see life evolving, weird structures and suggestions of spinal columns forming in the ashy leftovers.  Is there a chance of this becoming something organic and choatic before all of progressively become structured but in a very deluded way.  It could all be some sort of not very subtle metaphor of life and the whole big bang shebang. 

Well it's good to know that one thing leads into another, and that it all kind of bleeds together into some seismic irrelevance.  I actually have so many other projects on my hands I can imagine this being something that I could keep carrying on with on when I reach an impass with any of my other projects.  Something that I can approach in a relaxed way, because if it seems to go on forever there's no point in setting myself any impossible deadlines stretching away into the infinite.  That would be like stressing over the all together uncontrollable inertia of actually realising that I'm a breathing thing doing things on a big spinning thing.

Sunday, 14 November 2010

Structure and Decay

When I was moving house, I decided to get rid of all my old notes books and loose bits of paper, only keeping a few that I really really liked in memory boxes, the rest of it I either photographed or typed up onto a word document.  It was actually a good thing to do as I wasn't paying much attention to any of it when I had it, and it was also very useful for me to reassess things and read all the mad, looping round and around things that I'd written, they often seemed rubbish and nonsensical, tapping into some sensation or emotion that was only relevant at the point in which it was felt.  It was all quite dark and atmospheric, though it's natural that the only time when you'd like to express your thoughts is when you absolutely need to express them, cast them out onto a page hoping they'll stay away in future.  So most of the writing that was in my big box of paper was very personal and the sort of thing you'd only read as you were writing it.  Saying that though, dependent on my mood as I was typing it all up, I had moments when it all added up and there were bits of it that could be rewritten and made into something good, if I had the time or inclination.  Anyway the picture in the top corner of this paragraph is one of the pictures that was amongst all these papers.  It looks rather like a neanderthal's interpretation of a super computer.  I think.

 A lot of these notepads were made whilst working in some call centre - not listening to a single word that was being said to me whilst doodling and collaging science fiction abstraction and somehow managing to do well at both customer service and putting together nice little doodles, all the while either getting funny looks from some team manager or else the people I sat with who I never talked to.  I'm very much glad I work in Admin these days, I don't have to talk to anyone on the phone and on occasion manage to zone out into the empty swirling everything that goes on around us every single moment.  Enjoying the odd moment of inertia as existence sweeps by never explaining why or how and what on earth it's doing.  I get time to worry about proper things, big things, small things and things worth worrying about.  And I get paid more for working less.  I do quite like this little drawing.  It looks like one of those giant hairdryers... the crossed out and circled numbers are likely notes taken during calls.  And the word ORDER is stuck on with some innocence, surely with no meaningful or satirical intention, quite startling in it's irrelevance, yet it looks deliberate, like some sort of hamfisted metaphor of authority.

A raging machine working in note formula, on a note book.  It's good that this sort of thing got me through the day but I didn't really see any value in it at the time.  It was just left behind in some notebook at the bottom of box full of other notebooks under a desk covered in notebooks.  It was good fun to go through them and very weird that I don't remember making them at all.  Probably listening to some faceless bleating bloated blatherer bleating bloatfully about his overdue Barclaycard payment whilst I lived my entire life on autopilot. 

So a certain amount of tedium can be a helpful incubator for developing ideas.  Willpower is a good way of getting through really bad times, and even though you might spend hours, days or a whole lifetime thinking about what a massive loser you are... you might actually be doing quite well - in your own way - if you work hard at putting together your plans of world domination and "just be yourself".
It's weird but some of this simple work I did all those years back has a nice sense of composition to it, and some really laboured and intense cross hatching, like I was so impatiently wanting to get out of life through the paper.  In some ways it's probably a good idea to reassess the past so you can remember all the things that you are capable of but might have forgotten to keep doing.  As surely in your older, wiser, and better state you could probably do it better - me in particular:  I'm now less awkward, less spotty, less greasy, less rubbish.

I used to have a lot of nightmares about teeth, they bothered me for years, teeth would melt, teeth would crack, I'd wake up with my hands in my mouth as in my dreams I'd be pulling out big piles of mushed up bone and blood and letting them drop down an imaginary drain.  It was funny.  Funny weird.  Sometimes funny ha ha.  Never traumatic.  I'm not making a drama out of it, I'm so brave and stoic.
They've now been replaced by dreams where I backchat my way out of situations often involving some nasty and ugly characters - in a way I probably wouldn't be able to in real life.  What a turnaround that is.  Whilst at times I go about thinking about how all my luck is spiralling down some horrible mad trail I'm actually - when I "count my chickens" - doing really really well.  Judging from my dreams, circumstances in life and my relieving lack of acne. 

Is there any chance this positivity might breed contentment?  That I may all of a sudden be content and then stop feeling the need to make any progress and my life will fall into stagnation?

I am planning to take a walk at some point soon, with a big doodle pad: A2 sketchbook.  Go down to some broken down buildings, or the cemetery, and do some actual drawing of real life thing in my own fashion of the not real (except in my head).  It will be quite good fun.  It will not really be dwelling on the past though.  As I've never really done that before.  These old images have made me think of those sorts of places though.  Jagged, horrible, scribbly places.  All scribbled and scrabbled and scrambled - all scrambling and scribbling.  Squabbling.  A squabble between structure and decay.  That's always the case though, except when it isn't.

Saturday, 13 November 2010

Shouting mutely into the void and Ornamental Bird Review # 1

Time to start shouting mutely into the void.  I suppose that's what it's there for:  the internet being some bottomless thing with expanding edges no one is ever to reach the end of.  So here I am creating a place of my own to dump in thoughts, general progress in my creative life, the odd essay on fashion or any photos and reviews of gorgeous and not so gorgeous ornamental birds I see in shops.

There's probably a chance that I won't be keeping this for very long.  I imagine blogging to be very depressing, being some chattering cell in the collective unconsciousness screaming pointlessly about his own egomania.  I will possibly cancel this after a few months because there's no point screaming if no one is listening, and often no point even if people are listening, people just being people after all.  I do have a very reductive view of life, probably not a view suitable for blogging.  We'll see though.  As soon as I stop talking about the nature and folly of blogging I might actually start getting around to enjoying it.

OK then.  Time to stop blogging about blogging.....

Right then.  Look at this bird.  Never seen a peacock like it.  It's all white and gold, very regal.  I imagine it would be on the mantelpiece of some very inexpensive porcelain aristocrat called Georgina Potter.  A porcelain aristocrat with a porcelain bird with a porcelain mantlepiece.  In a maze.
This bird has very pretty eyes like a cartoon temptress.  With a great quiff like thing sprouting upwards.  A very dandy bird, obviously bored of the fashion among other peacocks to wear all sorts of flash colours and deciding instead to go plain with a bit of a gold trim.  This bird is very classy, neither indie clubs or raves she is more into early nights and a diet of rich golden buttered fairy cakes and bowls of string beans.  An early morning riser who likes a quick jog along the esplanade of the Croatian sea to wake her up for a day of writing  her novel very very slowly.  It's about the bright young things of Oxford, based upon her first love and also the gradual blurring of the class system after the war.  The ground underneath her feet is very unrealistic looking, would be better if she were stood on some simple red martian rock, or grey moon rock.  That would stretch the imagination further and make it look less cheap.  Also it's a little bit over glossy but gets away with it by being such a regal bird.  Great detail on the plummage.

I now feel like I really have made a valuable contribution to the expanding internet universe.