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On shaping Clay

April 19, 2014

three3I’m always surprised by the conceptual challenges of sculpture, there is no formula and finding your way often feels like a forray into the unknown. In art I feel there is a duty to search for new imagery and ideas and by this I mean search for entirely new concepts.  It takes hundreds of drawings for me to resolve and educate myself into new ways of seeing and all this is non commercial, but a process that is invaluable to the development of my art. Because I have to take these steps through drawing in order to broaden my horizons and produce work and ideas beyond my imagination. In the past I met with barriers that kerbed my development and altered my course, but I had to survive and with little encouragement for my more innovative ideas I was forced into compromise.  But now the gloves are off and I’m going for it. With my sculpture I now follow ideas even if they are unprecedented which can leave me dangling at times because there are no points of reference. Whether it truly works compositionally and whether it truly works as a piece of art is very much an area open to debate. Sometimes I produce work through a more intuitive channel, which feels almost random and it can take a year or two before I truly understand the idea and believe in its aesthetic.I  now take my sculpture and art very seriously and try to adhere to a strict criteria based on my visual sensibility and feel for art. I never ignore the aesthetic and whilst my work may at times appear slightly whimsical, it is always born out of sincerity and the result of a rigorous development. I no longer see art as a commercial product and in that respect I resolve my artistic desires through what I feel is a genuine respect for myself and human expression through art. In this light I see the validation of art through the values it communicates to me through the visual language and I’m not fooled by style, hype and misleading narratives both in work and through the erroneous rhetoric used to impress. In short I no longer have room for bullshit and shallow repetitive concepts dressed up in new clothes, which makes my challenge all the more difficult. It’s frustrating that after thirty years of honest endeavour, I’m still unable to have my work accessible to a wider public, then I smile when I think about becoming one of Britain’s most irritating artists, by speaking openly about life in art and the reality from an artists perspective, openly, honestly and unguarded, because when your life is as affected by the bullshit art world as much as mine is and has been it starts to feel like a duty. However for now I will try to produce the art I believe in, art that is not a sacrificial offering to the whim of capitalism and hopefully I can avoid the stampede for money that blinds and steers art towards the railroad to oblivion.


However for now I will try to produce art that is not sacrificed to the whim of capitalism and avoid the stampede for money that blinds and steers art towards oblivion. Instead I will produce art that is constructed from my own energies, that satisfies my curiosity and in answering my own questions will hopefully lead to a fulfillment within.  But I have to admit that there are times when I really don’t know what I’m doing beyond searching for something that resonates and feels right at a moment in time, often this is all I have to hold on to and it can be a thread. With the tenuous nature of creativity you can easily be side swiped into different areas and I guess this is where your experience and perceived empirical knowledge can step in and hold the fort. In contemporary society there are a  lot of distracting platitudes about how you should live and approach life, most of which don’t cut it in the creative process because creativity is not born out of a conventional or formulaic approach. What I mean is that you can’t teach creativity no matter how many self-help Guru’s you turn to, because you have to fly alone at some stage if you want to explore your creativity in-depth. Art for me  is a fierce internal struggle as I fight for a reason to create and for ideas that satisfy my depths, but it doesn’t stop there because I feel the battle is even greater with: The artist v society, because this is the confrontation with the immoveable force, but standing down is difficult when you believe in what you do. This world is no paradise for an artist and when you’re in deep and the odds are stacked against you it’s real tough and that’s where I am now. I’m quite fortunate in that I have an inner strength, but it still pushes me right to the edge and I’m still a bit to reactive in my art for my own liking, though I’m making suitable progress and I’m still amused by my predicament.


Now as I move forward I still feel caught up and cradled in a false reality and I wonder if others feel this way, born free for a brief moment before being marched into a prescriptive  life, in which the not so subtle conditioning makes us compliant members of society. It’s funny but when I look at society from my perspective on the margins, I see a world of disconnection and a market place where you purchase the products to  buy back a notion of connection.  A product that appeases a desire and fills a gap created by a life that never allows us to feel centred grounded and satisfied with what we have. It’s almost like we are stripped of our basic contentment of just being and cast into the market place, after all that is what capitalism is about, creating needs and the more we are serviced by meaninglessness the more we desire it. I just wonder where it will take us and how much human integrity will be left by the mass consumption, I mean what can’t be bought with money these days. I know art has in part sold out to the market place and you really have to search into the margins to find the integrity of the subculture, where even here urban art has been lifted off the streets into the institutions. Capitalism is a greedy beast and really does sniff out any opportunity that is ripe for exploitation.


To quote Mick Jagger “I can’t get no satisfaction” in this materialist world, not even a basic satisfaction from the vacuous and meaningless products designed to appease my desire for a brief moment. Even the satisfaction of my art is compromised by a world that has a brutal attitude to integrity, I can’t even design and produce a work of art to show publicly in a world that doesn’t look to celebrate purely creative endeavour. I could jump through hoops and go through rigorous procedures to get assistance, but that is really not what art is about. I know I’m not alone with my feelings and that there are many artists out there with similar circumstances to me, effectively powerless and paralysed by a questionable system. For the past twenty years I’ve almost led a double life, making sculpture and developing ideas on a small-scale, I sold all my sculptures and exhibited them far and wide hoping that my work would generate some interest so that I could produce some large pieces. But I was not able to secure any significant opportunities which in the end left me with just the manufacture and sale of small sculpture as the sum total of my life. It just didn’t feel right for me and it still doesn’t which is why I’m determined to make the changes I am and seek a new way forward.



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