CAP2 2016 - 2017 (Personal Review/Reflection)

Untitled Collage (25 Things/Google for Wisdom), 2016

           2016 and what has now passed of 2017 have been times full of huge changes for me - both personally and professionally so, as I am entering the third year of my degree, I wanted to take some time to publish a post reflecting on some of what I have learned within the past twelve months.

Extract From the As Yet Series, 2016

       I am a very ambitious person. I drive myself hard and hold myself and my work to a very high standard. When I get a "vision" or hold of an idea which excites me, I hammer away at it until it works the way that I want it to. I will adapt and rework elements as necessary, pushing my ideas as far as I can within real-world constraints of time and means - but - there is nothing that I love more than a challenge. If you tell me it won't, cannot or doesn't work: I really will not take your word for it. Either I make it work, or after a long time of trying I come back and say "yes, you were right, it really doesn't work... this is why, and this is how it *could* work given X, Y and Z". 


It could have originated from my studies of Theatre or my love of writing - maybe it came from way back - my love of *reading*, of *words* and language. Filtered though my studies in Illustration, there is narrative embedded in each of my works if you want to find it.

Inspiration vs Ambiguity
Nine Doors (mixed media sculpture), 2016

       Somehow I spent my second semester dealing with incredibly personal topics. As such finding the right balance between "self-therapy" and having something genuine to put across to the world has been an interesting test for me. There is a clear therapeutic element within my recent works but I don’t want to “give the story away” because I want the work to be relatable. In short: within the narratives I set out, I want people to be able to discover what they need to. And if my work becomes a vessel for other peoples' therapeutic needs, that is all the better. 

       Inspiration for this approach to my work(s) comes from a few different sources. Shaun Tan's The Arrival; Edward Gorey's The Visitor; Jo Spence's Phototherapy; Choose-Your-Own-Adventure-books and Phillipe Dupasquier's A Busy Day At.. Series

       I strive to create work which fundamentally has an open reading but also contains an element of flexibility towards interpretation and which you can choose your own path through. I want the viewer to make an effort in their reading of my works, and as they do this, project their own selves into it. So I attempt to ensure that the story is not immediately obvious, and at best is ambiguous. The space between the viewer and the work, where the viewer takes what they see and fills in the blanks is, for me, the most interesting part of the Art Process. And this is why I strive to create works which - while aesthetically pleasing in the first instance - maintain mystery, thereby inviting investigation within the viewer.

Everything is interlinked

       During the previous year I have been attempting to pull many strands of my practice together. I have been developing ideas across a range of mediums and formats, allowing the different strengths of each to bounce off and influence each other.

       My ideas have developed and progressed through testing, making and experimenting with the physical properties and reactions of different materials to each other, as well as practical problem solving in order to achieve the best outcome for my vision. My ideas initially were process-led and I didn’t think that I had any over-arching massive revelations that are bursting forth through my work. However when my ideas got breathing space they began to develop themselves with a life quite of their own.

       By the end of the year I had about a billion ideas, all branching out and crossing over with themselves. My initial focus was on Utopia and I was researching different ideas and outputs stemming from ideas of Utopia throughout history. I was especially interested in construction, infrastructure, urban planning and societal structure. However, by the middle of my second semester I had begun to think about domestic space and how the ideas of Utopia within architecture and planning translate into the domestic space. I want to ask what would a Utopian Domestic Space look like? 

       From that I can distil and trace the development of my ideas and focus which seemed to alien and strange to me initially. I have, for a long time, been examining the urban environment, testing and playing with my own relation to it. At the same time, I have been changing and restructuring my own domestic space almost continually, seeking perfection and the solidification of where I am. To combine this with an aesthetic and exploration of a perfect societal structure dissolves a mass of clouded jelly into structured focus.

Seeing Art

       Looking back, I have had over thirty years of exposure to Contemporary Art and at the beginning of the academic year I very much felt that I was channeling and putting into practice ideas and inspirations which had been brewing and forming for a long while, just waiting for the perfect opportunity to be useful. As my way of working and thinking had been forming so long, I was naturally inspired by that which was already within my lexicon. 

I took myself off into the world as an Art Tourist this year, exploring Berlin Gallery Weekend, the Venice Biennale and- much closer to home- Hidden Door in Edinburgh. I feel hooked on seeing and experiencing new Art: how is it being presented; who are the new Artists; what are they saying; how are they making and why?

Extract From Detr: i/us, 2017

Finishing Things... 

       It is all about timing, or time-management. While everything is interlinked - there may not ever be able to be a definite end point. A literal dot on a page doesn't mean that the book is finished. 

       This past year has been a solidifying of my skills and direction, a year of learning focus and seeing my work (and the way in which I work) for what it is. In it's essence: a full journey of an explorative and questioning nature. What I hold in my hands now now is the basis upon which I will build the future.

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