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On the road to Antiestablishmentarianism

April 15, 2014


Since ditching my ego based and deeply misguided ambitions as an artist my world has opened up. Not only have I seen the art world in a whole new light but I’ve also found a voice for my social conscience and now see honesty as a part of my duty as an artist. To say exactly how I feel about life and art in the context of my own time, I have no illusions and realise I’m a solitary voice, but I believe in all I say and do. The frustrations of filtering my thoughts into oblique utterings no longer exists as I now feel free to do and say as I like. For years it felt like I was treading on egg shells as I tried not to upset the polite business of the art word, but more recently as the market grew it formed what is called the arts industry and under that umbrella art has really started to die. Or at least that is what I feel, as artists are forced to scramble for a market share, all trying to prove their worth to the market and art made for the sake of the market or to attract investors and collectors is just that, “Art for the market”. The problem with this is that art is taught to follow the market and the trending of the moment, success is seen through celebrity and wealth, which in turn plants an ambition in artists to succeed. But I question what success is as an artist and whether hunting for success is an appropriate endeavour for an artist because I feel that the trending culture of art and the big ego is a subversion from an open and honest art. I even wonder about whether or not you should even contemplate perceived reactions to your work whilst developing ideas, particularly in the current climate. A big problem is fear, because as struggling artists our survival is dependent upon the market and satisfying those with money and this in itself stops us taking risks, because the market grows to expect more of the same so people feel secure in their investment.


I have suffered greatly at the whim of the art market and its proponents, taking me to an extreme of despair as I felt obliged to create thousands of sculptures, you see I had been led to believe in this false notion of success that made me believe in the art market and collectors. But I found a hollow world without compassion or care and when times were tough there was no support, because it was about business and that was the bottom line. For years I fought to maintain my integrity but I was being diluted and groomed into a system that held no value to me as an artist and in a ten-year period I was brought to my knees. Money never meant anything to me anyway because it can’t buy anything of true value, but by now I was under so much pressure that I couldn’t break free. People around me expected me to continue, but I realised I was trading everything for a small reward and deep sorrow. Sorrow because my life was passing me by and I was entering the zone of meaninglessness, a creative life sacrificed to the whim of an art world with values I found abhorrent. I realise my criticism of the art market is strong but it did a good job of mincing me up and  I now see it becoming more aggressive in its devouring of art, so I cant help but offer my opinion.

The world has change a lot over the past thirty years and right now it feels like we are on the cusp of even greater change, because a shift in values is needed to guide societies into a responsible and sustainable approach to the world, away from the market led exploitation of the worlds resources. Surely art has a role to play in this, to maybe alter our perceptions and notions of who and what we are, but it can only do this through rigorous honesty and not pretending that everything is wonderful.  There is so much back slapping, bullshit and pretence that people need to wake up and say it like it is and break free from the shackles of capitalism, that hold us in bondage as economic prisoners.

All I say and write is based on my observations as an artist because it’s my window into the world, I know many people will disagree but at least I have the courage to share my concerns and thoughts, which I do through my social conscience. In my own life I can’t stand insincerity and by writing openly I feel liberated as an individual and because I can be open and honest my work is growing in relevance. Slowly but surely my art is becoming an open dialogue and true to all I am as a very ordinary person who used to love making sculpture.

I believe art is the simple act of human expression and not producing commodities for, investors, collectors, fame and fodder for the art industry.


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