A Dark Mirror

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.

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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?

This is a really exciting direction for me. I’m pretty much merging the work I did with Headstones with my Automata series to develop a new body of work called Future Fossils. This is very much a work in progress at the moment as I explore further how clay and stone can work together. Bringing in an element of doll parts makes the creation an interesting process. The results are as uncanny as they are beautiful. So far I’m only using faces since this continues with the themes I’ve been working with since the start of the year. I’m not ruling out moving onto other areas of the body and thinking how skeletal fossils of dinosaurs can influence my work with other limbs.

I’m hoping to have the first pieces of this series complete for late August when I’ll be in residence at the Workers Gallery. More on that soon. I’ll also be telling you all about my entry into this year’s Secret Art Sale at The Exchange in Twickenham which will take place at the end of September.

Meanwhile though, I have to get back to the studio and see what emerges from the clay…

Detail from the 'Future Fossils' series

Meanwhile in the Tate Modern…

I’m really proud to be part of an exhibition at the Tate Modern in London. Ideas in Motion: Borders, Bodies, and The Universe is on until June 16th and features work by researchers from the Queen Mary University of London. I’m just one small contributor to a large piece called eMotion: Emotional Transitions in Healthcare created by Alban Low, Harvey Wells, and Kevin Acott of Collect Connect. During Mental Health Awareness Week 2019 we were asked to move between emotional, spiritual, social, and physical stations. We considered how to transverse a network from being ‘healthy’ to being ‘ill’, from ‘independence’ to ‘dependence’ and back again.

I’ll be travelling to London to see the show tomorrow which I’m quite excited about. It’s a big deal having contributed to something to be shown in such a prestigious gallery. I’m not the kind of artist who is comfortable in playing the social scene to make my voice heard, so it’s great for my little voice to be part of a larger choir of little voices. Together we sing of wellness and fear, of joy and living, as part of an interactive subway style floor map.

If you’re in London pop along this weekend and see for yourself. Or follow this link HERE to read more about how Alban Low, Andrea Rinciari, Anne Beach, Anonymous, Astra Papachristodoulou, Ben Honebone, Carole Bulewski, Caroline Streatfield, Charles Lambert, Danny Mooney, Dawn Goodwin, Dean Reddick, Denise Cowan, Denise Ledgerwood, Diane Taber, Francesca Albini, Ginny Reddick, Glen Strachan, Harley Richardson, Harvey Wells, Helen Nicholas, Jackie Franklin, Jacqueline Smith, Jennie Gray, Jenny Meehan, Jessica Sedler, Jill Hedges, Jim Edwards, Jina Wallwork, Jo Silver, John Tilt, Judith Parry, Julie Reay, Kate Cox, Katie Stone, Katya Duft, Kevin Acott, Laura Hulse, Lesley Cartwright, Lesley Crowhurst, Leslie Baldock, Linley Weir, Lorraine Bewes, Lucy Furlong, Lucy Newton, Margaret McCloy, Mark Carr, Mark Lomax, Melanie Honebone, Mike Dunn, Mike Russell, Mike Soper, Natalie Low, Nick Mort, Nigel Price, Penny Parr, Peter S Smith, Peter Turton, Phil Deed, Rebecca Lowe, Robert Good, Robin Helweg-Larsen, Robin Hutchinson, Rose Catling, Ruth Payne, Sam Furlong, Sarah Taylor, Shirley Smart, Sophie Bradbury, Stella Tripp, Stephen MacLachlan, Steve Cohen, Stuart Crewes, Stuart Hawkes, Tahira Mandarino-Simler, Tamara Jelača, Terence Collie, Theo Wood, Tony Martin, Tracy Boness, Tracy Ann Ferriss and Wayne Sleeth, have created our narrative on life.

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Once Upon a Time in America…

A very long time back now, I think it was at the start of 2019, I sent some artworks to Rochester Contemporary Art Center in upstate NY. These little pieces are to be shown in the RoCo 6×6 show which opens next weekend.  I’m a big fan of shows that are inclusive, non-exploitative, share art with the world, and simultaneously raise money for the venue itself. It’s for these reasons that I’ve been showing at RoCo 6×6 almost every year since 2014 and I’m already thinking about next year’s entry.

I’m all for anything that breaks the psychological boundaries between the exclusive white cube space and the general public. Too often galleries run outreach programs which don’t reach far enough, or they run ‘Open’ exhibitions as fundraisers which aren’t very open at all.

RoCo 6×6 breaks the mold in that the gallery openly welcomes, and encourages, the local community to stand shoulder to shoulder with national and international talent.  There is no elitism here, just creativity and expression.  The pseudophilosophical nepotism of the big bucks ‘Art World’ is turned on its head and everyone, and I mean EVERYONE, has an opportunity to shine.

Online preview of the show has already begun, and the opening party is on June 1st. For just $20 you can own a 6″ x 6″ slice of quality art. You’ll have to be quick though. Often people are queuing through the door to get their hands art they love.

All the money from sales goes straight to the gallery. So what if I haven’t earned a penny from contributing my art. At least I haven’t been charged a fortune by the gallery for ‘exposure’ and ‘opportunity’. Instead I gain a warm feeling that I’m helping a gallery who really cares about its community.

The show runs until July 14th so if you’re in the area you have plenty of time to see the show. You can find Rochester Contemporary Art Center on East Avenue, Rochester, NY 14604.

My contributions this year are pencil crayon drawings based on my Bad Pennies series. Here’s one of my pieces below. I hope they sell!

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Now showing…

My latest collection of Headstones is now showing exclusively at The Workers Gallery in Wales. I’m not exhibiting a lot in galleries this year so this is pretty much your only chance to see these pieces in the flesh and get a chance to buy these strange little creatures. Other planned exhibitions for later in 2019 will be in Rochester NY, Edinburgh UK.

I love the Workers Gallery because it is the kind of place that still believes in little artists like me, and championing access to art for anyone and everyone. These days I avoid the stuffy traditional art world and instead favor shows and locations that think outside of the white cube space. As an artist I feel it is my duty to challenge myself and the conventions of the world around me. The Workers Gallery have always encouraged me to believe in experimentation, and believe in myself and my own abilities.

Visiting the gallery today really helped inspire me to move my art forward. It’s been a long journey for me during the last year or so in trying to find inspiration and purpose. I’d previously felt my relevance and reasoning were waning. But now I have ideas and visions about the next step in the Headstones collection. Thanks to today’s drive over the Maerdy Mountain, I think my mojo is finally back!

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Headstones

Headstones

Headstones is an emerging series of three dimensional forms created in that indiscernible moment between waking and dreaming. Half seen, half imagined, the faces of my Headstones often remain abstruse. These intangible characters are captured in my mind and solidified in clay and stone after waking.

Lost souls are molded, shaped and made whole in order to exorcise my mind of their presence. Shifting phenomena frozen in stone are further immortalized through their portrait photographs.

So far 12 entities exist in this series. Some have declined to be photographed.

I Still Fear the Silence

It’s 4am and I can’t sleep. Outside the wind is hitting 60, 70, 80mph and threatening to take the world apart. It screams through gaps in the windows and through the large oak trees behind the house. Intermittent showers stab their raindrops like needles through my bedroom window.

I am relaxed but my mind is racing. As my slumbering body sinks into the bed my thoughts rise. The gap between my conscious and unconscious being is stretched thin, and I feel the final disconnect between the paralyzed corpse beneath me and my hyper-aware mind.

My own hypnagogic jerks and sounds mingle with the very real noises of the tempest outside. I am repeatedly kicked back into wakefulness. There is no rest here, only screaming discordance. I look across and beyond. An eternity has passed but it is still 4am. I long for calm. I yearn for silence…

No…. No….. No.

I still fear the silence.

That dream is still very real. It’s been over a year but still it sits in the back of my mind. It regularly haunts me and pulls me back. April 7th 2018 is still just as vivid now as it was then. I dwell on it now in a vain attempt to try and draw my mind and body back together. Surely anything is better than lying here suffering the delusions of my own insomnia?

……. It’s 4am and something outside is howling. I wake up and find the front door of the house is open ….. …….. I try to close it but a hot Saharan wind is pushing against me. This is the UK in April so I know something is very wrong with the world. I step outside. All the sound is missing except for the cries of a homeless guy sleeping in my front garden. There’s the glow of fire coming from inside his tent…. ….. I know better than to see what’s there…. ….. I turn and head East. The wind is pushing silently, fiercely, against me now. I hear a cat behind me. …. Turn. …. …. Nothing….. Behind me. …. Turn nothing. ….. …..

……. Silence ……. Total silence……

….. Then the soundtrack kicks in and I know I’m fucked. The jarring strings tell me Mike Patton is scoring this night. I run…. …. Run…… RUN!!!!! Time warps …… …… ….. Slows ….. Stops.
…………. I wake up again. Is this my reality? The soundtrack remains and I can’t work out what is real anymore…..

This is real. It’s still 4am and I still can’t sleep. Outside the wind is beyond 80mph and threatening to take the world apart. Another hypnogogic jerk as the penny drops and I realize I know the score to last year’s dream. I have heard it. I know the accompaniment to my fear…. …. I know this is real… …. Images from Zak Hilditch’s 1922 race into view. I’m merging characters from the film into my own disjointed unconsciousness. I finally slip my mind back into my sleeping body and fall into my regular uncomfortable dreamworld. My familiar night terrors kick in but tonight I’m accompanied by Mike Patton’s 1922 soundtrack. It plays out, mingling Hilditch’s visions with my own across grey dystopian landscapes and broken minimalist scenes. Characters evolve, grow, and tell their story in my unconsciousness. Nothing in tonight’s dream will end well. It never does. But at least the images I see will, for the most part, be confined to my sleeping state.

Now it’s nearly noon on the morning after, and over breakfast I’m still stuck with the emotional residue of last night. I’m considering other soundtracks, other composers, other ways to accompany or explain what I experienced. I’m musing on Jerry Goldsmith, John Williams, Fabio Frizzi, Camille Saint-Saëns, Bernard Herrmann…. They’re great. Really. But they don’t even come close to Patton when it comes to scoring the personal relationship I have between terror and silence. He manages to explain with sound what I can only close my eyes and see.

I’m so tired. I am not rested. I need sleep. I need a better sleep. I’ll just close my eyes for a moment. I’ll just snooze a while before I attempt to deal with the day. … I listen as the sounds of the new day unfold…. The wind outside is still raging and screaming at the world to tear itself apart. I open my eyes. It’s still 4am …

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