I agree, making this website has been an invaluable addition to my art practice (thanks for asking) and with twenty posts published now (I shudder to think of the total picture count), I am much more at ease in 'talking' my work. Before this, I never knew how to. Having said that, however, this here is mostly pictures. But some words too.
The last few weeks, I've been tunnel visioned in the studio, making a dozen or so versions of the one piece I'd like to see. Or several same-but-different pieces, a series of relief pieces. It feels like that; that I'm making all these things to see what the thing I want to see looks like. And yes, it is a puzzle & after having forged on & on, day after day between my work-shop (actually a teeny kitchen adjoining the main studio space, where I keep the power-tools & hopefully most of the dust) and the work-bench, I have come to a halt to take a look at what I've made so far. *The following are all studio documentation, by which I mean the photos are like notes, sketches and/or working drawings.
So, I'm using the same visual elements in not so different ways, trying to get some kind of reaction, a spontaneous resolution or maybe new insight that I'm sure is in there somewhere. Having said that, if this is all about nothing and to no end, I'm ok to keep going anyway; I like making these things.
I'm shuffling images, laying visual strata. I'm working with my buildings, landscapes and patterns. It's like weaving a collage.
The building facade could represent the framing of personal worlds. The shape of the arch references devotional architecture, the scale could be seen as a model of a grandly majestic edifice or as small as a bedside shrine. The arch is a Romanesque/Gothic shape or minarets on mosques. I also like the idea of a Rood Screen, a decorative barrier, like a portal to the Divine. Or maybe a gateway. The slightly offside angles allude to a cavernous kind of perspective, a vastness of structure in space; the heroic aspect.
My childhood impressions of houses of worship, the Mosques and Cathedrals - places where God lived in his little house inside the big building - were remarkably different in aesthetics, but remarkably similar in slavish observance to decorative detailing. I was entranced by the decorative, then and now, and tend to be mesmerised by the eternal nature of patterns. In my childhood, all this was conducted in the same tropical haze; my memories are tinted the same warm sepia tone as the super 8 movies taken then.
In using patterns, the Arabic grid/fretwork/decorative lace is 'bent'; distorted, the way memories can be, how time can be curved with some moments catching on a snag whilst others slide quickly away. Sometimes selectively fragmented.
Patterns act as a current that runs through everything, both a continuum and a barrier, weaving over & under insistently, like history. Or, a decorative veil that obscures/reveals. A link between two cultures, East & West. A reasoned order, skewed. The gorgeous, over-saturated, cover every surface with pattern type decorating, organising every plane with sectioned up details, like that seen on altars and religious paraphernalia.
To see the divine in the landscape is a common, very beautiful concept; we destroy on one hand and venerate on the other, same as ever. Landscape can also be seen as a theatre; after all, it is that in which we conduct our lives, in which we act out our lives. There is a dialogue between the 'inscape' and the 'outscape'.
(May I recommend the article "Melancholy as an Aesthetic Emotion" by Emily Brady and Arto Haapala, published in Contemporary Aesthetics. Quite fascinating and probably quite off-topic but definitely fascinating.)
And lace patterns and all their connotations of feminine decorative. I like how when its mirrored, its like a Rorschach blot. The repetition turned inwards.
The landscapes I'm drawn to most often, in this context, are mid-late 19th century paintings of the "New world"; where the conventions of western academic artists were brought to bear on an alien tropical 'wilderness'. I've processed reproductions, cranking up the saturation & reducing focus to enhance the fecund, dramatic, fantasy scenes. Behold the decaying tropical Utopia, with it's sinister murky depths, a reflection of one's inner self. A beauty that needs to be contained, so its very 'wildness' is put to purpose, suspended in time in an imaginary world.
I also love a cloudscape, like the wind blowing through. Imagine a tropical Europe, the weather changing, the dark and violent side of the divine.
I like the scale of all these pieces, 8 x 10 inches seems to be really handy.
Hmm, still nothing resolved...and I'd had this ker-ay-zee idea of entering a few art comps. None of the pieces photographed here are finished & I'm not so sure I know how to yet but I'll see how it goes.
I came across this passage in an email sent to a friend, some time ago. I copy here to share my wisdom. Yep, its that good, I've offered it twice:
Y'know, I don't think I'll ever really figure anything out. It's more about the conversation that is had on the path that's beaten towards it. In fact, maybe that's all any artist does. Works towards some place we are compelled to get to. Every piece is a different take on how it might be gained. Otherwise we'd all just make one piece & leave it at that. The point is that one NEVER really gets to a finish line. We just get to keep stabbing at possible solutions. Visual solutions to a vexing question that totally NEEDS to be addressed. But we don't really know. Work is produced but when it gets to some kind of fullness we leave it there and go on to make another and another piece. I like this.
End of post, phew. This ended up being lots of words after all. Back to work now.