Yesterday I was in residence at the Workers Gallery and Workshops over in the Rhondda Valleys. I created a brand new piece of artwork in the space of five hours… or perhaps I did it over the course of a few decades. Hang on, I’ll start again…
I started creating collages out of my own photographs back in 2010. Some of these pieces travelled the globe, others stayed closer to home. Some of these collages were only 2.5″ x 2.5″. Others were a little bigger and each took days, sometimes weeks, to make. Source photographs came from hundreds of miles of journeys over the course of several years. Most of the collages I made formed the bulk of my creative output between 2011 and 2014.
I have looked at these images so often they mean almost nothing to me any more. I have analysed, chopped, glued, framed, and exhibited to the point where I remember every tiny detail in my mind’s eye. I haven’t needed to take these out of storage for a good long while now. I no longer need them in my life let alone taking up space in my studio.
So yesterday I took elements from every artwork in this back catalogue and created something new on A2 sized paper. What is it Worth? is the result of years of mental, emotional, and physical journeys. This piece contains my personal history as much as it contains my professional one.
It will go on sale soon (more about that nearer the time) but at what price? I know what this piece is worth to me but am unsure what value a buyer would place on this. Either this is 5 hours work and has little value, or it is hundreds and hundreds of hours of craft and is almost priceless.
What is What is it Worth? worth?
My studio is full of boxes of old collages. Some I made almost a decade ago based on photographs I took back in 2006. Others are just a few years old. All of these artworks have travelled but none of them have sold. Here I see a piece which hung for a while in Rio de Janeiro, there is a piece which featured on TV in the United States. All of this art is worth something in terms of memory and experience but is it worth anything in terms of money?
Of course there are pieces I made from this period that sold and these are worth value, if not to me then to the people who now own them. What of the rest? Despite numerous shows across the globe these pieces remain destined to return to my studio. Are they priceless or worthless? I’m not sure, but they’re definitely purposeless to me.
On August 24th at Workers Gallery I’ll be remodelling this back catalogue. Evolution is the key to good practice and revisiting myself is the key to learning. I will repurpose these collages by ripping, cutting,and rebuilding them into one much larger piece of new art. Every small memory of creation will be reworked into the present.
As I destroy the old to form the new, I’ll tell you all about my memories and experiences of the fragments I’ll be working with. I’ll tell you of train journeys to Bangor, customs delays in Croatia, Welsh sheep in Brazil, and dolls heads in Colombia. I’ll ask you to help me place some of the pieces of this new collage and decide how the present should be composed. Will the final artwork be worth anything? I don’t know. If its only purpose is to form new memories and experiences at Workers Gallery then that has to make my art priceless.
Join me 11am – 4:30pm
I’ve been very quiet this last month busy in the studio making things happen. Usually when a new collection emerges there’s a daily blow by blow account here to describe the process, but this time it’s a very different story.
I haven’t deliberately been aloof. I’ve been so busy making the art I’ve been too preoccupied to talk about it with anyone. I’m moving more and more away from paper and photography and more into three dimensional artworks. Finally, I think I’ve found a way to merge my existing uncanny 2D practice into a 3D clay form. I’ve actually been working with clay since I was about 7 years old, but have never felt my ideas had any substance until now. I feel like I’ve got the confidence to reveal more about this new collection; my Future Fossils.
What will happen in the future? What will archaeologists find in 20,000 years time? What legacy will be left in our layer of rock? Can it be beautiful? I imagine I could time travel to the future and see the remains of a lost civilisation, our civilisation, embedded in rock. Just how lost are we?
These Future Fossils are a dark mirror to our current state of being. The faces reflected back at us, embedded in the rock face, a reminder of the pursuit of 21st century living. Is this a wasted resource or a natural evolution? Do you see entrapment or liberation? Is this beauty or something more sinister and grotesque?
I am not sure how to write about how I feel as these Future Fossils emerge. Am I complicit in the legacy we leave? Of course. But I am only one small person; flotsam in an ocean of people floating inexorably into the future. I’ll be photographing more from this emerging collection and sharing them here over the coming few weeks. I’ll also be trying to collate my written ideas into a more tangible form.
I’m hoping this collection will make its debut at the Worker’s Gallery later this month. I’ll be there on 24th August as part of a residency programme and will have some of these pieces with me. Come along and tell me what you think. I’ll be revealing more about that residency soon.