Monday, 21 March 2011

one last never

All my work is now in the Corke Gallery. 70 of my envelopes are now pinned to a board, there'll be 100 in total at the opening, and then Nic wants more to replenish the supply after the first few nights. They're now £2; Nic felt £1 was too cheap. I think £2 is reasonable - not extortionate, as they're all hand-drawn, although it doesn't feel like I'm giving them away. Hopefully people won't be too put off by the price to have a go and buy one.

I've chosen quite a kitsch, chintzy layout for the framed works. It's a symmetrical arrangement a bit like you'd find in a living room, to add to the sense of conflict between the presentation and the content. I've titled them all "Never," other than one work called "Always." Overall I'm quite pleased with the quality of the show as it stands. The other artists work is all of a really good standard, and the space isn't so crowded with works that you can't appreciate each piece individually. "Roots" is a really varied show, and I'm pleased that we have such a broad mix of practises to display. I'm optimistic that people will enjoy it.

Friday, 18 March 2011

never, obviously

This is the material I'm handing over to Nic Corke tomorrow to be put up in the gallery. I've got around 70 envelopes and 15 framed works, although I'm hoping to bring another 28 envelopes along on Tuesday just to round off the total to 100. I think the hodge-podge, gaudy set of frames I've used has worked quite well, and the drawings now function as objects as well as just drawings. I think especially putting smaller drawings in large frames really draws the eye to them and makes the viewer focus on the detail I put in. I think the overall tone of the series is what I was aiming for, and I do view them as functional collectively as well as individually. The notion of "Never" is prevalent, and I think I'll title all the works "Never" other than the small drawing of the cat and mouse, which I'll title "Always."

The bedsheets are from Ikea, if you were wondering.

Wednesday, 16 March 2011

re: action

RE:Action was the first of the exhibitions arranged as part of our Practice and Publication module, with work by Dave/Amos Whiteley, Catherine Rockwood and Anna Mulhearne, in the Wolstenholme creative space. I was quite impressed with how slick the exhibition felt. The space really seems to lend itself to installation artwork, and while each work had its own tone, the three works together seemed to take on a single, more congruous meaning. There was a certain spooky, maudlin and quite serious sense of intent which, to me, was quite accomplished. The four individuals, engaged in their own individual therapies, felt sort of otherworldly, almost like a seance. The feeling of the space was meditative, with an allusion to neuroses and obsession present across all three artworks.

The works all invite subjective interpretations and explore our relationship with ourselves. To me, they functioned more as an intriguing series of vignettes more than anything overly philosophical, but I often find installation artwork very hard to engage with anyway. I think the nature of this response is something the artists anticipate and even welcome, as their literature suggests they value the individual's viewpoint as much as their own. Overall I thought it was quite a worthy, harmonious experience, and an interesting start to the run of shows.

Wednesday, 9 March 2011

pop isn't a dirty word

Pop is a lot to do with my artwork. The idea that pop can simultaneously be knowingly aloof and shallow, yet also be dense with imagery and more meaningful notions, is key in understanding my practice. My work is tongue-in-cheek and has no set definition, but I'm also very emotionally invested in it and like to think it carries some message about me, my ego or how I perceive myself.

On the broadest level possible, I think pop is the art of the thrill, and it's intrinsic in all branches of creative human endeavour. My artwork is visceral and always designed to be pleasing to the eye on some level - I have an enjoyment of line and colour that I think can be pretty universally appreciated. I think the small emotional thrill that people may get when viewing my work is, ultimately, the same kind of thrill that some people get when they watch a film, or maybe a music video, or hear a piece of music they find affecting. I don't like to view any experience of this nature as more worthy than another. My notion of pop is that if someone gets an emotional rush out an experience, we shouldn't feel the need to quantify its worth because of the means its creator has happened to use.

My work is, generally then, an arrangement of symbols. I think it's enough that a symbol or motiff can exist in an artwork without needing to be explicitly explained. Individual elements such as shading, the figures or text are what my drawings consists of, but they're mostly just my way of manipulating the tone of the piece. I have ideas about what a particular image may mean, but I don't think my view is definitive, as I can never totally understand how other people will perceive the work. I've always preferred to learn about the work through how it's received more than I've ever felt any desire to state its intention. Complete understanding of an artwork requires complete understanding of the self, which I personally think is impossible. We can approximate the process of stepping outside the self and self-scrutinising, but ultimately, it can only ever amount to an intellectualised facsimile. We're still the same mind; the same amalgam of memories and emotional triggers. I believe then that the breadth of an artists understanding of their own work can never be truly comprehensive.

Although I have no set-in-stone notion about the meaning of my artworks, I don't believe the images are created "automatically," because the idea of the "automatic" creation of artwork completely contradicts the works intention. Creating the artworks is a very involved, reactionary process of balance. I rarely have a set agenda for a piece, but I may have an idea for an element I wish to employ that then takes on a completely new meaning in the context of the piece as I create it. If the work is going too far in one direction, I'll often counterbalance it with an element that may contradict, or even undermine, the nature of the "message" so far. Doubt or scrutiny of the self is still a fundamental theme, and I feel any message I could put across that's too earnest or absolute would be, if anything, a bit dishonest.

The idea then of artists having any kind of authoritative voice, to me, is false. Artworks are, effectively, an experience, and often the true nature of the experience can become a bit muddied or diluted in its retelling. I think memory is often what we want it to be more than what it actually was, because to have and state an opinion is, by its very nature, an indulgence of the ego. We make statements about artworks because we're willing to be perceived as making those statements, and maybe sometimes we aren't truly honest, even with ourselves, with our feelings about an an artwork. I prefer not to state meanings because I think it tarnishes the overall potential of the work. Artwork functions as an invitation to a personal, subjective experience. In this sense then, I would definitely consider myself a "pop" artist, because whether the piece has worth depends entirely on the viewer. I don't like people to feel they don't understand a work because they don't understand my viewpoint - theirs is just as worthy as mine, ultimately. Pop is fundamentally a base attempt at emotionally moving an individual which is, I think, the best thing that could be expected of an artwork.

Monday, 7 March 2011

never never never never never never never

I've made about 40 of these envelopes now. I'm hoping to put some sweets and "wisdom" in them and sell them for £1 a go at the Corke gallery alongside my framed works. I'm emailing Nic Corke tomorrow, so I'll see whether he likes the idea and go from there. If he likes it, I'll have to think about how they're displayed and signposted. They've turned out to be very quick, so I'm hoping to make at least 100 for the exhibition, and maybe another 15 or so for the crit next Friday.

Nic has also asked for a personal statement. I wanted to get the gist of my practice across without coming across as too pretentious or obtuse. The theme of the exhibition has turned out to be "Roots," which I initially had reservations about, as it implies a sense of heritage which isn't really relevant to my artwork. On further reflection though, I decided that the idea of a "root," a hidden or buried source from which something more formed can automatically grow, is actually quite applicable. This is my statement for the Corke gallery:

My work is illustrative and relates to the human condition. The work is tongue-in-cheek, melodramatic and has no set definition, although I like to think it’s in some way reflective of my ego or perceived self. The drawings are an arrangement of symbols rather than a narrative. There is minimal agenda in their creation, and they are open to subjective interpretation. Generally the work explores notions like desire, anger and betrayal. The work links to the title of “Roots” in the sense that every emotion, and therefore creative action, has a subconscious “root” or origin in memory. These artworks evince that idea. The idea of “Never” is also central, as it’s something we all have to deal with.

Sunday, 6 March 2011

never indefinitely

Another work for the exhibition and some drawings on brown envelopes. I'd like to have a lot of the envelope pieces in the exhibition in some way, as they're quite quick and a bit of fun. I might put fortunes in them, or sweets. I'm using "Never" as the loose title and theme for the work I'm making. I feel it's something we all have to deal with.