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Notes from my existence in the sketchbook of despair

May 29, 2014


I use the word brutality quite frequently in my notes and I do this because life can be brutal for artists who rely on sensitivity and empathy in their work, I feel that through a heightened sensitivity artists are more capable of  producing relevant art. But society bullies artists, their integrity so vulnerable to being eroded by the crass nature of “the winner takes it all” mentality of a society fuelled by a survival of the fittest. With the hideous competitive hierarchy we are encouraged to be greedy, selfish and so our values are subverted away from the values that are marked by ethics and broad altruistic gestures, where for example you would make a piece of art purely because you believed in it.


If you look at me and speak to me, you would probably assume that I was strong and had some interesting ideas and a certain amount of confidence. But the truth is to maintain my sense of self I have had to survive an embattled existence in which I have always felt a need to protect my integrity and fight for the right to be an ordinary artist in society. Now in life I find it helps to run and lift weights to maintain a mental and physical strength which allows me to go forward with my work and be who I am with my integrity at the fore. Please note that I don’t complain or feel sorry for myself, I just observe and regulate my life to follow my chosen path and share my observations, I actually enjoy the challenges which make me feel real and present.


Inside I have no idea if what I choose to do with my art will have a wider relevance, but in my own existence it feels real and vital and as close to an absolute as I can get. But it is subtle, tenuous and fragile reflecting the ephemeral nature of being of a life where we can never claim ownership of anything, yet if we are lucky we may touch and hold something truly precious for a brief moment before the feeling disappears. I feel I am on the edge in every aspect of my existence, we all are, as our very lives hang on a thread, something brought home to me by the sudden deaths of my sisters and mother, which has profoundly affected my life. I can only assume that no one really understands why we are here on earth and whether or not we have a true purpose in life as we fly through infinite space on a beautiful ball. But through my art I at least find a purpose and a way of feeling connected both on a personal level and to the wider implications of humanity, earth and the cosmos.

pony tail

Through the analysis that art has brought to my cerebral processes, I’m often struck by the duality that seems to exist and how possibilities are polarised by a breadth of possible interpretation. I feel that we find our levels and identity through the choices that we take as we pick out our spot from the opposing forces that create the whole, how we claim and hold on to a position that we feel comfortable with. Art demonstrates this quite clearly as you are forced to make an accountable commitment or decision to every mark you make and in doing so you are free to move forward with the clarity of the decision made with the marker laid down through art. However these marks are of the moment and life is still dynamic and the constant change in our physical reality and personal evolutionary growth maintain a life that is in a state of flux. Because I made an interesting drawing or sculpture today doesn’t mean I can do the same tomorrow and this highlights how special the moment is and how specific our reality is in a given moment of time as opposed to the sweeping generalisations of an assumed constant.


Standing firm behind absolute concepts and becoming entrenched in certain beliefs is in my mind is pure folly and defeats the exploratory potential we have as humans, yet there is in our societies a perceived limit to which we are encouraged to explore life in an open way, something that is implied throughout most of the structures in place.  Art questions provokes and undermines the systems of society through a search for truth and understanding and in the broadest context makes us ask the questions like: Do we have a purpose? who are we? what are our connections to space, time and whatever gravitational splendours that hold us faithfully to our planet. The unanswerable questions that provoke an open and lateral exploration of self, questions to which there may be no answers but where the thought and consideration of meaning and purpose is enough to satisfy and stimulate an enquiring mind .


Being an artist has opened up my mind considerably, to a point where I can no longer play at being an artist, I no longer feel a need to fit in or to follow a career path, in fact I don’t want to be a part of any establishment structure. I have no desire to be reigned in by any hierarchical structures that would essentially steal my freedom and destroy the essence of my creativity. The circumstances of my life have changed me in many ways from the preconceived notions and expectations I grew up with and my life finally feels interesting and beautiful through the pursuit of what I believe in.


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