Monday, 25 May 2009

Artist Statement Redux

Since my First Statement was quite autobiographical and didn't actually talk about my work, I was advised to rework parts of it, and to be honest I did rant a bit, then Trace and Ewart talked to me and told me that I could easily move parts about, add it bits from my notebook and cobble together some kind of Frankenstein Statement [and I've got to admit that it does make more sense now] so here it is
[On a completely unrelated side note how annoying this that f-ing paperclip on MicroSoft Word? not only does it take away any enjoyment I get from writing, but it makes it so stressful, I bet when God was inventing MicroSoft Word it kept transforming into a pair of binoculars or a bicycle and pissing him off with mindless suggestions and making fun of him when he paused to think what to type next by falling asleep! He should smite it.]

Badge: Artist Statement.

There comes a point in every child's life when they learn about death. I believe it to be an important milestone in life.

When I was 6, I went on a boat trip on the Conwy River, shortly after boarding I became convinced the boat would sink and we would all drown. The boat didn't sink, and we all made it back to shore safely, however for the first time I was aware of my own mortality.
Not long after the boat trip, my Dad suffered a stroke and was hospitalised. Fortunately he recovered, but it made me realise that circumstances and lives can change without warning.

Both events had a profound effect on me; I began to question life, the meaning of it, and the afterlife. It was around this time the nightmares started. Visions of death, destruction and hellish scenes plagued my sleep, I developed fears for my family’s safety, convinced the nightmares would come true, and that I'd lose them all, leaving me behind, alone, the sole survivor of an apocalypse. I dreaded going to sleep. The scariest things about the dreams was the fact it was the only place my parents couldn't protect me.

I spent hours poring over encyclopedias trying to find answers to my questions and nightmares. It quickly dawned on me that I have no control of my life and the events that ultimately affect it. Of course the books and research fed the nightmares, and spurred my imagination. I sought comfort in objects and places around me, in the belief that if my nightmares came true those objects would remain.

My paintings have become a form of documentation of both the nightmares and of the objects, locations and memories I sought comfort in, a way of publicly recording the experience and staking a claim for them by branding them my own.
The encyclopedic research informed the wheatpasting, with images and texts culled from them to demonstrate the horrors of the ‘real world’, which is then juxtaposed with the childhood innocence that the colouring books represent. The characters playfully make their way from the care-free unspoilt world of childhood into the harsh bright reality of the real world.

I wanted to present my own personal transition from childhood innocence into the real world via the paintings, giving my perspective as a child, and contrast that with my current adult understanding of the transition - which is shown in the wheatpasting, it takes a more structured and ordered format compared to the paintings, the repetition of the pattern echoing the more mundane aspects of adult life, children may be in a hurry to grow up but quickly realize underneath the colourful veneer lies routine, boredom and more often than not misery. My use of colour stems again from the nightmares – which were always Technicolor, but also from a personal love of colour, I tend to be drawn instantly to colour, hence the usage of neon to represent the real world, but I wanted to create a contrast between the subject matter and the colour. Joshua Hoffine sums it up best when he said of his own work:
“I didn’t want them [his photographs] to be dark or grungy. I wanted them to be shiny like pieces of candy so that you can look at them longer. I want them ultimately to be dainty, pretty things that you would want to look at but in the middle is something awful”.

The work has become an exorcism of sorts I can now see the events and nightmares as a personal apocalypse, both in the traditional sense of "The End" [i.e. the end of a childhood innocence] and also in the literal sense of a revelation - the revelation that the end can visit in many guises, be it a loved one or pet dying, or the end of a blissful ignorance.

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