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The Art of Life

April 4, 2014



Why is the art world so pretentious and elitist and is it healthy for art and artists alike.

My entire life has been immersed in art, I was born in Edinburgh where my father worked at Edinburgh college of art and I lived in a house full of art  and antiquities from around the world. Indeed some of my earliest memories are of visiting the Royal Scottish academy, the museum of modern art and the private gallery of Richard DeMarco. I knew without a shadow of doubt, that art was at the centre of my universe, as the sacred expression of our humanity.  I was taught about Hellenic art and grew to understand how the  golden age of Greek  civilisation influenced western society, particularly in science, philosophy, architecture  and art. I was also shown the great works from around the world, works that shone out as beacons, demonstrating the heights of human achievement, from pre history to the present day. Eventually I took this knowledge for granted and my sense of proportion and understanding of art felt natural, I had a great respect for the rich history of art and never really questioned the authenticity beyond the aesthetics and sophistication of expressions. The one draw back to my upbringing was bearing witness to conversations about art and how I always felt that there was a lot of pretence, so much so that I hoped that I would never have to lecture and be subjected to such environments. I have to add that it wasn’t my fathers conversation that bothered me so much because he had come from a humble background and knew the score, in fact I still have great conversations with him now.



So my early life served as a great foundation and was influential in my choice as an artist to study the human figure, followed by the horse. The history of equestrian sculpture was rich and I wanted to be a part of it and take my place, I had a starting point and the confidence to feel I could add something to it.  I was shy and humble about my potential and full of enthusiasm and hope,  I had a healthy respect for art history, theory and the great institutions. So I dedicated myself to the pursuit of a new vision of equestrian sculpture and found myself fully emerged and with a growing confidence, because I had found some interesting ideas from my approach. Combining all the elements that I felt were essential to successful sculpture I created some dynamic horse and riders to a level of critical acclaim, but I was a shy skinny boy who didn’t like talking to people in any other way than through my art.



Through my art I started to grow and the intellectual side of me developed greatly as I dealt with the questions that rise from creativity and with each development my self-esteem grew in synchronicity. I could make a living from my art and everything was fine till about 10 years ago, when I realised I was no longer happy with my life in art. I suffered the discontent for as long as I could before starting to turn my life around and going through the process that I have written about previously. But in turning round my approach to art  I needed to peel away the layers of a life time and deconstruct myself to the deepest  level, undermining the foundations of my journey.



The deconstruction of  self has been quite a brutal experience and changed how I see art to a point that I now see the creative force more as an impulse an intuition that is more spiritual than intellectual and in that sense its more isolated and individual. Where as before I was starting to see art more from an intellectual point of view, creativity that fits into a framework and history, art that is in fact constructed to fit a criterion as opposed to an open expression. What I’ve learned is that approaching art with an open mind yields a richer outcome and that art is not about show boating to the glitterati but satisfying the soul, knowing who you are and why you do it. I have made this realisation mainly through drawing and found a connection and belief in myself that is divorced from external influence, but it is a tenuous state and fragile, because it’s not absolute and based on the feelings of the moment. There is no reassurance that anything I do is correct in any other context than my own life and is really based on defining my uncompromised truth and in that sense it is art that is on the edge of my comfort zone, if it wasn’t I wouldn’t be looking or trying hard enough.


To take the last three days as an example, I’m tired and struggling with ideas, I would say slightly lost, I feel a hollowness inside and an inadequacy that can only be cured by finding an idea that reassures me of a relevance to my work. My rational mind knows that I am capable of new and exciting ideas yet I feel a sense of panic, like that’s it, the shows over and I’ve nothing left to offer, because I am in this moment. My past is quite meaningless and my future an untold  mystery in which I want to invest hope, so when I feel empty and truly hollow my outlook becomes bleak in what can be an instant. This is the punishing life I choose because I feel it is what art is about and whilst I know that struggle is usually rewarded in some way, that is no consolation in the moments of despair. So I grit my teeth and continue into uncertainty excited and fearful in equal measure, always looking for a spark of inspiration or a discovery that lifts my spirit and fires my imagination. This is the journey that defines my life, there are no great highs because they are always tempered by the harsh reality and torment of a life that forces you to look where you’re going in an existential fashion. At times this search can reach a level of pure desperation and at others you can be lost in blissful creativity, in this existence I don’t look to understand or find a balance, instead I just try to ride it out following the intuition and feel I have for life. There is so much that I don’t know and never will that I’ve found a way of enjoying the freedom of existing in the open abyss of  life, after all how can I restrict my life with false constructs if I know them to be false. So I’m comfortable in my discomfort, I take little for granted but I feel my art has taught me much, (be that not to panic at an open horizon) and is allowing me to lead a full life, I believe I’m a credible artist and I no  longer fear honesty with myself and others. It is a good place to be and I just hope to have enough courage to move forward always questioning, challenging and searching for a meaningful way of expressing myself.


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