You will, as an artist, be asked about your influences and who inspired you.. almost as a way of looking to see if your technique or style has a category… but it can be so much more complex…. it’s not a direct line, or evolution…. often it’s a weird spark that sets you off on a path m a person you met, a colour out of the window of a bus, a music performance you saw on top of the pops in 1973….. something you don’t remember…. a dream.
I think I as much influenced by the attitude of Bowie or The Velvet Underground as I am by the fact I saw Picassos work in books as a child.. hearing Delia Darbyshire….. seeing 2001, the crude paintings or the Children’s Bible, art teachers in school, friends I met in my teens who explored ideas in a fresh way….. I saw Sparks on the telly, I heard poetry in random places, I read books about tesseracts… it all bleeds in, and if you’re lucky it slowly rises to the surface and you make a little sense of it all….
So, our 1916 commemorative print show has opened in the Galway City Museum…. it was a fabulous experience, and the official opening speech was made by Sabina Higgins, whose husband is the President of Ireland, so, very auspicious…. all in all it was a great experience and the Museum themselves were wonderful…
You can be a bit static, looping, redoing, keeping going but reverting back… getting tired and being unsure… I painted, repainted, erased, went back… and just as you have that sense that nothing is gonna work out, you get lucky..
The painting was thick, heavy and weary, yet, in a moment, I clicked with it, and with sly delight I felt a joy and comfort, the colours spread out evenly, and it felt easy to finish…
It was countless dragging hours and a quick flourish… and now, it’s a burst of fresh energy which should sustain me through a few more works….
Sometimes, some paintings, are simply infuriating… I often wonder how many paintings I paint, only to be repainted… must be loads of lurking sub standard pieces…..
Right now, I’m layering up, making decision and counter-decision, repainting, taking colours, then erasing them… maybe this is just all the process, always, but sometimes it seems to take so many cul de sacs… although, if you walk through a maze and keep one hand constantly in contact with the wall you will find your way through…..
As a child there were bombs in Dublin. We feared the nuclear winter, Reagan and Thatchers maniacal hateful grimness. AIDS seemed a threat to all humanity.. swathes of Africa slaughtered and starved, the stink of Apartheid, the coming apocalypses of disease upon disease… we lived through so many periods of war and hatred, so many periods of fear… But the world somehow seems worse now, the hate seems closer at hand, and the fear is so close to the surface that it seems easy to think that there is no hope… is there hope?
I am an artist, what can I do? Can I do anything? will it matter? must it matter? can it? I cannot write a line or spread some paint and say to anyone….”this is the path…” Twitter and Facebook posts might seem like a place to utter the right words… they are conduits for unity more so than disharmony, but I am not strong enough to compose, in a handful of characters, something that sounds like it can engender change.
I can go into my studio, but right now it feels like I would be locking the door to keep the monsters out….. if I write poetry, it would be a series of screams and sobs.
I don’t know if the world is a worse place, but I do feel more afraid, I have to be honest, there are places that are so beautiful in this world, yet I would baulk in fear at visiting.. does this mean I am terrorised? probably.
I don’t pray, but I carry a heavy heart for every lover and dream-carrier who loses their life for no reason other than the perversion of dogma.
I hope for hope, but I just don’t know…..
See a headline, a newspaper, a website, it always seems to be something fearful… there’s so much hate, enforced suffering. I have my opinions, feelings, ideas, thoughts, might be misguided, but I’m struggling to express them… as an artist, it is my duty to say something, I am part of the community of humans, I am part of the conscience..
I will search within my practice for a response… but it cannot just be some dramatic visualisations, shock or depiction for the sake of it… it’ll take a deep reaching reflection… but there are things I can express… and it’s that all of this has a religious basis… religion is the greatest mass delusion… that smart people would believe that doing bad in the name of what they believe is good is okay….
Homophobia has a religious basis…
Racism has a religious basis…
The wars and terrorism have a religious basis….
Misogyny has a religious basis…
The destruction of Palestine has a religious basis…
Almost everything that feels wrong, from the abuses in Ireland to mother Teresa’s facilitation of the suffering of the poor and the spread of AIDS….
And for me to channel that as an artist is both impossible and unavoidable…..
I’m painting away, trying not to think… act a bit, but with some goals, not too specific… and it’s been interesting… less direct.. and somewhat enjoyable.
So that’s the thing, I just found something… it doesn’t feel like pure experiment… or particularly radical, more just a case of taking an element of what you’re going and letting it runn away with itself, see what happens… maybe it’ll go no where… but possibly it’ll lead everywhere…
So, I wake up this morning and in in pain, tensonitis in the Achilles… it permitting and frustrating… it’s a secondary symptom of my Sarcoidosis… discomfort, need some painkillers pronto.
The sarcoidosis is a pain in it’s own rights, attacking my lungs, I have 50-60% oxygen absorption of each breath… get tired easy, sleep a lot, weak and weary??? everything is twice as hard, and making art involves ensuring not of the chemicals involved are liable to irritate my breathing.
Some of my art has hints and reminders, some of the imagery refers to my condition…. it seeps in, when you’re sitting in front of a artwork listless and unfocused… you can get angry, annoyed with your own inability..
I have a spinal injury too, I bend down to pick up a brush I dropped, it’s a strain to straighten back up, I get a head rush and start to cough… I groan like a weightlifting pensioner… I get back to the art… fuck it, I’ll keep going, there is no other way.