“Ladies and gentlemen, I invite you into my theatre, where adventure awaits for the eyes” Roger Ballen, 2012. The theatre of apparitions.
The trace is a strong part of my practice. Works’ are opaque and multi-layered, that capture the layers and fabric of the mind and freeze the ambiguity of borderline experiences and the complexity of the psyche in a visual form. I’m driven by the desire to leave some evidence representing existence. This desire leads to an unsettling tension from the fear of something created being washed away. Spray paint cites graffiti for this reason but also shows techniques of cave painting. Through a process of driven observation, my aim is to engage the viewer and increase understanding of the particular subject matter represented in the works. Using a diverse range of media, including photography, video, model making, drawing and painting I focus on creating a connection and dialogue between memories of an erased hidden architectural past and memories of childhood to the present day. Previous works , influenced by the work of Japanese painting, Peter Doig, Silke Otto- Knapp, Gerhard Richter, Luc Tuymans alongside the writings of Gaston Bachelard and Antony Vidler, focused on depicting recollections of rural and industrial landscapes into strangely familiar places. Working mainly with the digital image as a point of departure and using a restricted muted pallette on the surfaces of photographs, hinted at the fragility of memory and acknowledged how thoughts about past become hazy and blurred. Such works were shown as still projections and latterly videoed – signifying moving across a landscape saturated with memories, fading to black for several seconds and then to white, thus acting as the process of closing the eyes and thinking. Current work involves working with ink, ash and charcoal – hard edged gestures used autonomously on board, paper, walls, dust sheets and wrappers from cheese slices to form images that represent marks and abstract beings inspired by history and existence. The supports hold the memory of touch from periods of aggressive scribbling to gentle rubbing away and smudging. This autonomy within current work is played out in the resulting of visible forms whilst not conforming to specific nameable place or object. Drawing and painting based gestures using raw materials play a significant role that guide the work and offer an opening into a world of visual perception. At the same time by using such materials as a means to question experiences in the world, by extension, offer the viewer a means of exploring their own relationship (s) with and their visions of the world.
The gestural markings within the work of Antonio Tapies and Henri Michaux combined with the photography of Brassai has had a profound impact on current practice. Tapies combined paint with resin, dust and other materials to create rough, textured surfaces. He compared his work to the heavily marked walls of the streets in Catalonia, which seemed to bear witness to the sufferings of the civil war. Michaux on the other hand, began to paint when he realised this new medium might enable him to say what he found impossible to articulate in his poetry. His work has an unusual complexity, depicting worm like patterns, intense markings and enigmatic facial forms. Brassai photographed wall markings and carvings over 3 decades. He was interested in how images eventually changed, either through additions by other artists’ or because of the passage of time. Recent work evolved through reinterpretation and absorbing various aspects of their creations and is developing a language whereby textures, forms and marks come together to create a spiritual, philosophical and cathartic response to the world. Further research used to assist in developing the dialogue of current work includes the filming inside the Chauvet cave in France by Werner Herzog. The walls are covered with the worlds oldest paintings and Herzog discusses how the artwork represents humanity’s earliest dreams. Furthermore, international artist Roger Ballen inspired by the carvings on blacked out windows in a women’s prison draws inspiration from the analytical insights of Jung and Poetics of Space by French philosopher Gaston Bachelard who applies the method of phenomenology to architecture basing his analysis not on purported origins but on lived experience in architectural places and their contexts in nature. Bacheleard’s highly original study of lived in spaces combined with Ballen’s thought provoking work has also provided a scaffolding of ideas for current work. A collection of writing entitled Basement Place responds to the images of Roger Ballen. The writing explores the psyche and refers to the attic and basement as metaphors for the mind. The basement being a metaphor for the subconscious. The process of writing about Ballen’s work helped to further develop ideas with regards to working within the environment and encouraged deeper thinking around current practice. Interestingly, Ballen’s work takes the idea of living space as a metaphor for the human mind. In an article entitled The house of the mind, Roger Ballen discusses that the rooms within a house reflect various places in the mind. The attic for example, reflects dreams and the basement reflects primitive consciousness (2016). In addition, George Schneider works in rooms within different dwellings and conceives the rooms as 3 dimensional sculptures that can be walked through. The rooms he works in are existing rooms he finds in various settings.
This Day was worked directly on the surface of dust sheets, the crumbling walls of a basement and 24 cheese slice wrappers. On these surfaces, I depict studies of existence in the form of basic primal iconography and sacred symbols, using gestures that have been embedded through the process of evolution. A bespoke made to measure book entitled This Day, 20.5 inches x 17.5 inches consists of the work on 24 cheese slice wrappers, their size and fragility evoking that of a polaroid photograph. Like a polaroid series, layers of history and gesture recorded on the wrappers act as a diary of the time working in the basement. The excessive scale and preciousness of the book is a stark contrast to the diminutive scale and the raw working on wrappers. The book suggests it is an important document, perhaps a way to decode the ambiguities of the work as a whole.