works

Reproduction” – August 2018 – Installation consisting of paintings, audio visual equipment, a wall/screen and a video projection. 10 mins 7 seconds.

Part of “In case of loss;” exhibition at the John Lennon Art and Design Academy, Liverpool.

Music by ‘Alabaster dePlume‘ aka Angus Fairbairn: “They Put the Stars Far Away”, “The Winner” and “Is it Enough?” from “The Corner of a Sphere” 2018 Lost Map Records.

 

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An intuitive, reflective portrait of the contrasts and similarities between myself and my father, Bo. The emotional tone of the relationship given with respect to our individual and parallel art practices. My father’s paintings, my video of him and myself, my self-conscious installation. Reproduction; progeny and copying. A temporal work symbolising both clinging to and letting go of the past then moving into an uncertain future. Gesture, visual and auditory metaphor is used to convey both the relationship and the practices. The artist finding their own voice but also questioning themselves, “Is it enough?”. There are three works here: the video, the painting and the installation. A self-portrait where the artist is the projector.

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“Mythos” – March 2018 – Video collage, projection. 3 mins 10 seconds.

Part of “Void” Exhibition at the Kazimier Garden, Liverpool.

A collaged myth: a spiritual journey from embracing the unknown to letting go. Featuring personal videos, rituals and found footage used as metaphor to tell a working through of trauma and tragedy. Emotional connections from grief, confusion, discouragement, powerlessness to embracing joy, bliss and enlightenment. Within the collected experience of others and things a personal narrative is constructed.

“Grenfell Lobby” December 2017 – White sportshall tape. 8m by 7m approx.

Part of “Ghosts’ exhibition at LJMU John Lennon Art & Design Building, Liverpool.

The floorplan of the central lobby of Grenfell tower. I inverted the doors to give a sense of being trapped in the flats without access to the lobby. By mapping the space on a 1:1 scale, I wanted to the viewer to be able to inhabit and ultimately empathise with the situation faced by the inhabitants of the tower (in particular how small the stairs were) – to put themselves in their place.


“Six of Swords” October 2017, MAKE Warehouse – Wooden pallet, wood, paint, lable, wood shavings and water.

Works in Progress seminar.

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“Grenfell Tower – 1 Bed Flat” August 2017 – Black sportshall tape. 7m by 8m.

Part of MA Graduate Summer exhibition at LJMU John Lennon Building of Art and Design, Liverpool.

Map of a one bedroom flat from Grenfell Tower.

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“In the Fulfillment or the Fiasko” June 2017 – Ripped books, overhead projector, acetate, and liquid glycerine. 4m by 6m.

Part of “Busted Flush” exhibition, St.John’s Market, Liverpool.

 

An absolute refusal of language, narrative and theory – fighting against the seductive reliance on the written word. Destroying literary foundations (anger; ripping; tearing; scattering; throwing) eclipsed by water (sadness; tears; emotions) and illuminated by hope (projection; rainbow; depth). Yet still being drawn in by meaningful fragments of texts as pointers, comments and memories left revealed (accidentally) by happenstance and wall-static. A non-verbal action in a ruler-lined cube.

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“EVeryIthing is illuminatEd (E.V.I.E.)” June 2017 – Video projection. 3 mins. Projected onto slatwall unit.

Part of “Busted Flush” exhibition, St.John’s Market, Liverpool.

 

Focusing on the light, letters appear scanning like words on a page. Reading left to right, moving right to left. A little hesitation. ‘Evie’, a Hebrew name. trans. ‘Life, living, lively.’ Made to music; shown silently.

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“1946; 1981” March 2017 – Drawing using SketchUp matched to audio commentary. 4:20 mins.

Part of “Trust in Me” exhibition, St.George’s Hall, Liverpool.

Two houses, two generations, one floorplan – a testament to my elderly father’s failing memory. As I attempted to map his territory, the thread of memory unravels and fades out. Muting my empathetic promptings, I let him fumble and misremember – the unreliability and frustration of a now fragmented past. As coherence breaks down so too does the footprint left. The contrast between the accuracy of technology and the fallibility of testimony constitutes a sad and lonely document.

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“401 sq.ft.” January 2017 –  Installation. Sportshall floor tape. 11.5m by 5m.

Part of “Plug and Fiddle” Exhibition, LJMU John Lennon Art & Design Building, Liverpool.

A floorplan of an average (Victorian terrace 2-bedroom) house in the north of England; my childhood home. Comfortably fits into the foyer of the art school. Too small for oversized corporate furniture but big enough for a family of four (or more!). The outline of the house changes the space: they walk through the door, convene by the window.

 

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statement

I started the course with the intention to develop an Art practice (capital ‘A’). Having come from an analytic academic philosophy background, with a predisposition to abstract and conceptualise, I had always made art as a side-line. Usually as gifts for others or to exercise some creativity aside from pursuing academic research and writing. My art work was rather superficial, trivial and throwaway. When I began the course last year I tried to be research-led. I started with thoughts, concepts or theories and tried to use these to underpin what I was making. I began with, “this is about…gentrification/containment/myths etc.” and used these as prompts. What I’ve discovered as the course has progressed is that this way of cognitively trying to jumpstart my practice was disingenuous.

The first instance of moving out of this habit of working was in MAKE warehouse in December last year where I made my first floorplan. It felt like happenstance how I came to make the work and I rationalised what it was about. In reflection, I can actually see it was my grandmother’s house in Toxteth. I searched for a house on her street and used it as an exemplar. It was influenced by works and films (and seeing a floorplan appended to an email) but it was totally personal. That’s not to say that I wasn’t led by intuition to start making floorplans, I had no conscious intention to express my own life experiences in my work. None of the work I have made is contrived or meant to expose anything about myself. Though if I was to sum up what my practice has been about in the last two years I would have to say it’s been a working through (and integration) of personal trauma, grief of losing my mother at young age and more recently a sense of recovery and finding my own voice as an artist. I thought I was making spaces for others to inhabit and empathise whereas I was actually providing room to grow through these particular experiences. Centrally, installation has appealed to me due to the ability to immerse and capture both myself and the viewer. Video builds an experience. Music sets the tone.

Another theme in my work is a rejection of verbal language, particularly testimony as a reliable source of truth. Having recorded my father’s unreliable, emotionally devoid account of his experience in these houses I matched it to a stark animation of space. Vapidly shunting up and down to the monotone retelling of his upbringing. It was sad but it was also soothingly familiar to me in its flatness, matched by the grey moving building. It’s rigid and purely structural.

The next set of works, at St.John’s Market, were pivotal in moving away from analyticity and towards intuition. I had relied so much on words (whether theories in books, promises made and not kept, escapist fictions) that I expressed where I was in the process of relinquishing this unhealthy dependence. I was fuming. The rainbow-beaming projector, on the worded remnants, was a self-portrait. With glycerine tears.

 

My work (and life) is motivated by two values: beauty and meaning. I believe that what is beautiful is beyond mere appearance consisting in a valued or meaningful experience. This could be a snatched moment of insight, belonging, enchantment or even revulsion. Beauty can seem elusive, shifting through contexts and deeply personal. Particularly, I am taken by Immanuel Kant’s definition of the experience of beauty as trying (and failing) to conceptualise and make sense understood as ‘the free play of the imagination’. Meaning, often applied after the fact, is a way to make sense of what has happened – to build a therapeutic narrative (cf. Viktor Frankl). A working through. Although my work is usually inherently personal, I hope that it is relatable especially given the emotional process that I aim to present in the work.

This last year, my work has been more free and instinctual. I started with a distancing floorplan of Grenfell tower. By empathising with that tragedy it helped make space to move forward with my own practice. It was too soon to work with my own lived experience so I moved into collaging moving and static images, mostly incidental and found though meaningful in ‘mythos’, developing an outline or structure using these collated sounds and images. A few motifs emerged (such as the protagonist hummingbird, an obscuring of nature with a static memory image, using music as an emotional soundtrack) which reappeared later.

A few pieces of work have been influential during my time at LJMU. The first was Rosalind Nashashibi’s ‘Vivian’s Garden’. What struck me in this piece was the failures of intimacy between the mother and the daughter. The daughter’s guilt and attempts to express herself creatively whilst also caring for her mother. The daughter seemed so wise and yet so childlike. I thought the use of metaphor in the film (such as the daughter being concealed behind transporting her huge canvases) were so evocative and really expressed beautifully her emotional situation. The work felt so subtle yet so powerful.

Second, Darren Almond’s ‘If I had you‘ which I saw in London many years ago has always resonated. The video installation of his grandmother, Blackpool illuminations and dancing feet alongside Aphex Twin’s beautiful melody ‘Avril 14th‘ really struck me. I was so moved. Although it wasn’t my story, it felt so relatable. It’s so easy to become disassociated in London that this empathetic breakthrough upon seeing this work made me realise the emotional power of art. Plato was right.

More general influences include: the feeling-first poetry of e.e.cummings; the delicate and evocative texts of Louise Bourgeois; the incomprehensible David Lynch; Haegue Yang’s reappropriation/personification of domestic items; visual metaphors in film (Gus van Sant’s use of walking, Andrea Arnold’s haptic ‘Wuthering Heights‘, misery in Lars Von Trier, crisis in Bergman, addiction in Darren Aronofsky’s ‘Requiem for a dream’ and loss in ‘Fountain‘, anything by Charlie Kaufman, particularly ‘Synedoche, New York” about death).

My most recent work is called ‘Reproduction’. Again, visiting my father who in his dotage has begun to paint prolifically. Albeit, copies of Picasso’s with his own personal slant. My father is half Chinese. Throughout my childhood he painted replicas: hieroglyphed graphic Egyptian friezes on our bedroom walls, Egon Schiele and Klimt portraits on the doors in our house, Van Gogh’s “Bedroom at Arles”. I am interested in notions of belonging and heritage. There is a village in China called Dafen, where artists replicate famous paintings to sell to rich customers. I wondered if there is some link here between that practice and what my father has done. It’s not a match tho as my father paints for pleasure not for money. There is also a sense of colouring-in someone else’s work, a lack of confidence. Yet a sense of bliss and flow.  Parallels between my own practice of mapping out existing floorplans with added aesthetic touches. Through filming and painting together I found similarities between myself and my father I didn’t know, a sense of understanding of him and a motivation to pursue my art practice, as he does, more fervently. Editing video is now my painting; I get lost in it working with and against the sound, picking out gestures within the grain of the framing.

In terms of how my practice will develop, having taken an intuitive path, I have explored and experimented more without any guiding theory or concept. Letting what comes through come. When I was making ‘Reproduction’, I became much more present. I started to see and listen more. Instead of seeking out inspiration, I stay aware of when I am inspired or struck by things in the process of living. This enchantment and recent distance from what my father does began my most recent work. I’m finding visual, sensory and auditory metaphors come to me instinctively now. A swan representing the mother, a hummingbird courage, joy and liberation. Childhood chalk drawings and complex, vague visual soundscapes. Complexity and ambiguity give my work a mesmerising quality. I will keep working in this way.