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For the Love of Art

May 2, 2014

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After a few years of turning my life round and going to some extreme measures of self-denial, I feel that I may have achieved my goal, in terms of  my personal development as an artist. I cut my sleep back, stopped watching tv, films, news, switched my radio off, stopped listening to music, started running every day, ate less food, stopped alcohol, stopped following sport etc, all so that I could rediscover my true self. Of course I will never truly understand my existence but my sense of self is back to where I feel it should be and I have risen from quite a dark and suppressed place. I’d never really coped with the murder of my sister over twenty years ago and the death of my other sister and mother compounded what felt like a perpetual state of grief. I think it has taken about two years of a concerted effort, doing cold turkey so that I was only really exposed to my own consciousness and reality and in this state I have reinvented myself or restored my essence. Right now I feel drained and empty, because for years I’ve lived with an intensity that is really not sustainable indefinitely. However I had to right: what I felt was a wrong in my life and claw back what these bitter experiences had taken from me, I also had to find the drive and reason to go on as an artist. Now I feel that I’m where I should be, but I’m suffering from a very serious doubt about my artistic abilities and worry about the many technical inadequacies that I have. I know that to overcome them that I will have to keep up this intensity and I just don’t know whether it is actually worthwhile, A: I still work in a vacuum and B: My innocence and tolerance has been eroded to such an extent that I sometimes find it hard to see the point in throwing all I have into the void I face. I’d hoped that by exposing my work more online that it may have generated a little interest or some backing but it hasn’t and I don’t wish to spend my life chasing opportunities, because I already have enough on my plate. I’ve done all this getting out there before and it never led to where I wanted which is why I can no longer be bothered. My other problem is that money doesn’t interest or motivate me in any way, in fact nothing motivates me beyond the development of my own work. I don’t know if I’ve been emotionally blunted by my experiences or whether it’s age related, but it does worry me. This one life that we have concerns me, because it’s so precious and I really don’t want to waste mine as an utterly lost artist.

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The belief I had, was very strong once, but the experience of grief eroded it to a point where I would say Fuck it, at least I’m alive, why worry about anything. In my current reality I have no one with whom I can discuss my work beyond my young kids and my father, which is why I write so much. Writing helps clarify my thoughts and find a way forward, but it’s not entirely healthy, though it’s very testing of my resolve and self belief. I guess really that going through difficult periods of your life is best done in a more solitary way because you find your true direction and if you can do this through tough times the good times will be great. Again when you’re trying to do the best you can and create new ideas, it’s going to be clumsy and awkward at times and hard for third parties to understand. In that respect doing it in the isolation that I am, is probably the most fitting way.

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There are times when in total stillness I become aware of the stark reality of my life, the inexplicable essence that is me and wonder what it’s all about. What does define me, why do I choose to take the actions that I do in life and for a brief moment I feel the discomfort of autonomic detachment. A feeling that arises  from the profoundly intense exploration that creativity subjects you to, a friend once described my outlook as forensically objective after a conversation, though he was a wild painter, a world away from the robust nature of the sculptor. But these experiences are like tests of how far you are willing to go with your creative search, it can be like breaking yourself down and questioning everything till there is nothing left, so you feel exposed to the core. Yes, art can be very uncomfortable, but it is a beautiful way to explore your own humanity and when You’ve been deep within, you struggle with the reality of the art world. To produce work with utter sincerity to feed into the art world is a problem for me and one I feel that I will never reconcile, because the criteria for judgement is at odds with my integrity and beliefs. I hate jumping through hoops like a performing animal and feel it’s insulting that my work is vetted by people before it is shown publicly. It is also why I refuse to enter competitions and seldom do commissioned work. I’ve really nothing to prove to a system in which I have no belief in, yet my fate rests in the hands of these people, this I really don’t like and explains why I suffer from occasional rebellious outbursts. I am an artist and I make what I believe in, I really can do no more than that.

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I’ve been surprised by my level of invention over the last couple of years and have extended my boundaries and ability to take responsibility for my imagination, no matter how crazy or off beat the work is. In pushing my boundaries it has exposed my past and how I’ve fought my way from an extremely  introverted youngster and how my insecurities always drove me to working in isolation where I wasn’t exposed to any judgements. I still feel the effects of judgmental comments but I fight the negative effects, because if I put work out there then I deserve an open and honest reply, particularly if it’s provocative. But fear is quite controlling and I’m aware of it too, as I work away at my art and I’m doing my best to overcome it so that I can produce whatever art freedom allows me to.

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I am a realist and know that my art doesn’t have the right appeal to take me to where I would like to be within the stinky art world and though this is a bitter pill for me, I have to accept the reality which means a continuation of hard work and the relentless production of editions so that I can make ends meet. For the past two years I’ve been existing on thin air at times, which is so uncomfortable when you don’t know if you will find enough money for your bills, even heating the house has been a challenge as my income plummeted. But I had no choice because I was heading in the wrong direction and if all I do in my life is set an example then that will suffice. I know in some ways I’ve been able to offer a little inspiration to others and that really makes all my writing and postings feel worthwhile.

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