I hurt my back again , or rather to be more specific it would be easier to say my back is hurting, it’s the injury, it’s always there, and right now it’s right here, chipping away.So I’ll stand down in the studio and wonder if I can channel the discomfort into what I’m trying to do, into the changes I’m trying to make, to not just indulge my own cliches but the express the core of what I’m trying to put into my work. I’m not even sure if the discomfort of this spinal injury is something that can really express itself through art or indeed whether it should all be indulged.
But then, on consideration it has always there, informing my practice in less obvious ways, sometimes slowing me down or stopping me, sometimes ensuring that I can’t work in the style or at the pace that I would desire, and sometimes it’s even right there on the canvas. So, just like the sarcoidosis, or dreary days or petty annoyances it is it important part of what I am and therefore an important part of what I do.
I realised at a certain point on certain works that I was looking at the painting from the wrong perspective… thinking, realising…. there is a goal,, that’s to see when a painting Is finished, gather than looking finished… and that, oddly, when you consider it should be obvious, was a wee bit of a revelation. So now, I’m reviewing, re-viewing, reconsidering what I am looking at at any given moment and hoping that this new clarity will lead me somewhere interesting……
As I’ve said, I’ve been looking at changing things in my art practice. It really felt important, and necessary…. I’d often gotten to a point where I feared I’d just run around in circles, or indeed, get bored with what I was doing or just feel that it wasn’t exciting enough… just one of those things, when you’re sitting somewhere, looking at or merely thinking about what’s happening, and you just think…. this is shite and pointless… so then it’s time to make some sort change…, I kinda feel, if you’re doing the same thing a few years down the road, then you’re doing nothing….
So I hit a landmark birthday, I felt it, it didn’t slip by, it was like a big old train steaming through… I looked out of its window, and I desired that fresh view. This was great, I actually felt that it was a good time to change, to reevaluate…
So I decided, on one hand and it kind of happened on the other, but change was engendered. I didn’t want to keep approaching my practice in the same way, I wanted to reexamine…. everything about how I was painting, drawing, printing, I wanted to look at, and not waste time with it…. and this was very interesting, because it made perfect sense to me.
I’ve been peeling back, chipping away, scrubbing ideas and, when it comes down to it, trying to make everything new and fresh, challenging myself, a new approach, and to be honest, it’s great, and fun, and finally, today, I got stuck into some new work, and it’s joyous…..
It’s fun, sometimes, to consider the secrets paintings and their subjects contain. I enjoy it, even with my own pieces… to think, to consider, what might be going on.
This idea, is part of the dialog between artist and audience, an invitation for consideration….
I sometimes find, that perhaps unintentionally, I have presented an image with a degree of ambiguity or indeed a sense that even I, as the artist, may be unsure… and that’s okay, because, I do feel that, as part of the conversation, the viewer must be comfortable with their own ideas and/or interptritation, rather than just have the work dictate too distinctly..
When a member of the audience for Re:Collect wrote that looking at my works was like looking at themselves, I truly felt it had achieved much more than I could have hoped… and that’s the thing, artists must allow the viewer in through that crack in the door, and when they do, they allow a little more light to shine on the work…..
New work in 2017, thinking about people’s ideas for the future.. the monsters have pulled off their masks and are walking openly amongst us, there is new ugliness of heart and spirit…. the future is in danger of being fucked…. they will leave you with nothing… Your Children Will Witness This.
Well we survived 2016, the loss of our icons, the rise of the cult of men-babies, the new racism and re-normalisation of ignorance, misogyny and racism…. it was indeed a shit year, full of shit things, so we kind of need to overcome.., and as artists, we often feel a responsibility to say/do something, to think our way around these horrors.
So now, back to the easel and the colours… trying to embrace the year and the possibilities of a new year. without getting wrapped up in the negativity… so we just have to work, think, consider, create, and resist.
As an artist, I always look forward to new work, to something new emerging and that is the positivity that an artist always carry forward. And you always hope that the negativity of the current world doesn’t pollute anything you do, and to a certain extent you make better art, and perhaps, through this, shine a little more light back on the world.
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….