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Sidestepping the Hierarchy and being plain Human

June 10, 2013


(I just have to get all this off my chest to free myself up, so that I can work without feeling burdened once again)

Being an artist is a vocation full of extraordinary contradiction and one that leaves you in a perpetual state of unresolved thought. The act of creating in itself should be a free and liberating experience of exploration but it is dogged by the hierarchical systems in place throughout society. At times you are left with no choice but to subvert, provoke and side step all the obstacles to find a clear path ahead in which to explore your art. So to get on in the art world and gain support, you have to impress key players (who having gained a status through their conformity) who will judge you and your work with their subjective approach. I say subjective because there is no absolute framework in art to which you can pin a sound objective criteria for assessment. One of the fundamental qualities of art is the ability to produce new ideas and concepts beyond perceived wisdom which conventional players within the hierarchy may struggle to recognise and might even miss them altogether. For instance you may work for twenty years developing ideas laced with wisdom and subtlety that are complex in nature developed through an intense empirical experience, only to have it judged through a  few cursory glances from people with eyes wide shut. It’s a difficult conundrum because working in total isolation defies the whole purpose of art as a spectacle and cannot sustain your practical every day needs, and working to impress others subverts the nature of your art. I see it as a struggle/struggle scenario with no clear route out beyond the one you fight for and that fight is all important because you will be defined by it. As I write this I can’t help but expand my thinking onto critical assessment and the whole judgmental approach to art which is all part of the containment exercise of the arts industry. An academic faculty constructed to empower itself through a dogmatic and somewhat esoteric categorisation of art perpetuating the hierarchy and divisive nature of art through an elitist snobbery. In some ways you can look at this academic approach as pure myth and just enjoy art as a spectator but much art now is aimed at impressing critics and academics and therefore is becoming applied art that lacks the ability to stand alone and engage the public (without explanation), applied substance without style.


So what I am saying is that the systems in place for artists are wholly inadequate and in fact subvert the true paths of many creative people (and I include myself) as they are pressurised to conform within a system that is in essence truly subordinated to the model of capitalism, where commodity, investment and vanity take a hold over the work. I hope that by writing my thoughts and exploring my ideas that I will be able to work with greater freedom and in full knowledge of the system that I’m a part of so that I feel I work without compromise. Knowledge and understanding is empowering in art and I would say the essential ingredient but compromise leads to dilution and mediocrity or to quote a The The lyric “leads to the garbage heap of despair”.

Untitled - 11clowner1

Sophie my seven-year old daughter likes to paint my face so I asked her to paint me as a clown my son aged ten took a photo and we manipulated it on the computer then had a game of football on the lawn and in a way that sums up what art is all about. You have an idea you make something through some form of gesture and you move on, it may be solitary or it may be through collaboration.

crab horse red

I do take art very seriously at the moment because of strong personal issues that eroded my esteem and confidence, issues that brought into question my integrity and abilities as an artist, which is why I’ve deliberated in-depth over a few issues. But I have to say that I have fully resolved these issues and used the opportunity to broaden my whole approach to art and life and put myself right back to where I feel that I should be. If anything I’m coming back stronger and wiser to realise my dreams through my work and create sculpture that I have not yet even imagined, I’ve had to fight hard to get here so I’m not letting go. Part of my rehab if you like is in the development of a robust set of principles through an objective analysis (or deconstruction) of the art world, because I needed to see through some of the pretension and find a place where I may fit in. I haven’t been able to find a place where I can fit in within the art world though I feel I have a relevance within society as an independent artist which funnily enough is all I ever wanted. You really do need to believe in yourself to flourish as an artist and at times that can be an extremely lonely battle as you limp forward with no support, armed only with your core belief that you are worthy and have something to offer the world out of your struggle. Artist’s are very much exposed by the nature of their work and expression,  just like anyone else they are vulnerable and subjected to societies pressures and life is tough, when people are down there is never a rush to help them back on to their feet, like the scenario of wounded animals in the wild. But I’ve learned some valuable lessons and still love life and art and realise that to climb a mountain you have to put in a lot of effort.

And finally a painting my first ever commissioned painting in fact my first ever sale of a painting 🙂

The bull

And another flipping Bull exploring gender dynamics 😉bull leap

And while I’m at it another crazy handstand horse doing the dance of life 🙂


  1. I’m so happy to see you goofing off being human! I really like the skateboard and the headstands. Your art comes by the acrobatics honestly. This post makes me happy.


    • Thanks Annerose, in life I’m still quite childish and playful 🙂 which is probably why I’ve had to go through a serious phase with my work if only to find a way of taking myself seriously. But my burdens are lifting and I’m starting to enjoy life more like I used to.
      Have a lovely day Eoghan 😉


  2. Anonymous permalink

    A very interesting piece. The question I have is… could there ever be an objective standard for the valuation of artwork that properly recognises the contributions of an artist to society/community without being subject to the subjective whims of the wealthy art patrons? Frank M


    • Hi Frank and thanks, what an interesting question, I don’t think there could be a truly objective structure for the valuation of art but perhaps the true valuation for art can only be measured through its contribution to society and the monetary value is a side show for the wealthy. It’s just unfortunate that the monetary value has such a big impact on the production and promotion of art. Eoghan


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