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Explaining the content and composition of my Art

July 23, 2014

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My limited understanding of life is fused with the complex perception of my fundamental reality and my work reflects my human interaction and dialogue with existence through all sensory channels. It is complicated to explain but the content of my work is not a shallow contrivance but an attempt to connect all that I understand and believe with all that I feel (some of which I will never understand), into a respectful expression. It’s a broad and lateral approach that encompasses all that is within my grasp and it’s truth and integrity that lie at the heart of it, which is why I try to avoid simplistic narratives that focus on specific details of specific aspects of life. In this respect the content of my work is a combination of different elements and approaches, some issues are forced and some are intuitive. It is a combination that has a level of mystery and a subtle conveyance that is non specific like life itself. I believe it is important to understand  how little we actually know in order to appreciate creative gestures, because pretending our knowledge is greater than it is, means we become closed whilst we indulge in conceit. I believe that a mind open to possibilities unknown has a chance of breaking down and seeing through the rigidity and conformity that life so often seems to require. In art there are academics and critics who analyse work and explain it to us, but this subverts art into narrow bands and is contrary to the nature of freedom, you cannot be told how to appreciate art and no one has the ultimate knowledge to understand art not even those who make it. When you take art to an extraordinarily deep level you know it goes beyond the confines and parameters  of convenient categorisation or understanding, in my own life 30 years of study cannot be conveniently abridged into a simplistic summary. I believe these issues I write about are fundamentally important for an artist to recognise in their search for creative freedom, it’s one thing being able to paint draw or sculpt but the proof of creativity comes in how you apply technical skills to fundamental expression and how you use these skills through a connection to the core of your humanity, as in the soul or spirit. I also believe that questioning everything is fundamental to art because creativity is not about accepting the status quo, but invention and invention means crossing the line and exposing the truth. There is little room for sentiment and accepting perceived wisdom as verbatim because, whilst a crap piece of art may be significant in the context of a contrived art history it is still a piece of crap outside of that context, if people have the courage to stand up and question its validity as a significant human contribution. Artists need to have the courage to question the system and the hierarchy that control art in society, if changes are to be made, but it takes great courage and sacrifice to do it by example. The restrictive practice of human behaviour exists on many levels and whilst there is a level of romanticism concerning the odd maverick or two there is also a perceived threat that closes many doors. I have strong opinions on art that come about from my sincere and total commitment, I don’t expect people to agree with all I write, but it stands as my personal statements and beliefs at the time of writing. As I always say nothing is absolute and tomorrow the winds of change may blow me into another direction altogether 🙂

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There are some aspects of art and sculpture that I now feel ready to write about, in particular, composition, proportion and content. I have always taken pride in my ability to create complex compositions, often relying on my intuition and the experimentation of trial and error, to find my way. I’ve always tried to stretch myself and go beyond my levels of understanding, hoping that one day it would make sense to me and that I would extend my compositional creativity to new heights with a deeper understanding. But it has been far more complicated than I expected, partly because I felt compelled to follow certain rules and principles which had become engrained into my ways of seeing. I see it now as an over intellectualized approach with a rational perspective that relied on the application of a slightly naive notion of common sense. And though I would escape this discipline through a trust in intuition it would cast an ever-present shadow in my thinking.  There was a level of misplaced idealism that paid too much respect to what had gone before and at points it would restrict the outcome of my work. I feel that I have a natural predisposition for exploring extraordinary compositions that is highlighted in my equestrian work, where a heavy use of metaphor conveys complex and layered concepts and reflections of being. In the natural world I’ve always been aware of the complexity and dynamics that exist, unquantifiable patterns that occur and which often contain a natural beauty through what appears to be a level of random chaos. Everything is there for a reason, but it is beyond comprehension and in a way doesn’t require an explanation beyond acknowledgement and respect. Like the pebbles washed up on a beach, pebbles that have been millions of years in the making that have ended up thrown onto the shore in a delicate arrangement, resting gently before continuing their journey. I believe that through the observation of nature we build up a visual sensibility and understanding that is complex in nature, an understanding of the phenomenon of planetary life and proportion beyond the possibilities of human intervention and imposition. By this I’m saying that the laws of nature go beyond the narrow laws or parameters applied to art and the perceived sensibility that we accept as the criteria upon which we judge art. When society takes control of art it becomes like a pageant where we all show off our wares like a beauty contest and forget to pioneer new ways of seeing. So in my life compromise was forced upon me so that I could make a living but I knew that the complexity of a more dynamic form of creativity awaited my attention if  only I could find my way and the time. But I also knew that following  what may seem like a random search could be extremely complex and  that a sense of compromise may still exist through the pressure to make palatable work. The conceptual development of my work was very much held up by my need to build a reputation and earn money, but it reached a point where I had to fall out of line and force the development regardless of consequence. My metamorphosis became a gradual process and happened in quite a natural way as I challenged my thinking and limitations through necessity. During the latter part of this transformation, I was set to break every rule I had concerning sculptural composition and have been astounded by the results. By liberating myself from the restrictive practice that I had adopted the creative potential of sculptural freedom was opening up immeasurably. I feel that I’ve demonstrated this through my equine work and have set a benchmark for complex compositions. The way I did this was by removing the restraints of convention and openly exploring the possible theoretical combinations of a horse and a human, it was an open approach and often meant I would draw the horse and rider one way then turn it round and draw it the other way. The final decision for the composition was based on my personal judgement which in turn was based on the weight of an evolving knowledge along  with what I felt I wanted to convey. There was no quick fix or absolute answer, nothing is right and nothing is wrong, it is all about judgement and the ability to react to the possibilities that arise in the pursuit of  sculpture. Whether or not it is chance, good fortune or luck, I prefer to see it as the reward for becoming attuned to my creative potential. There are times when I simply have no idea why I’m following certain ideas and there are times when I draw from scribbles just to see what is lurking in my consciousness. Sometimes I may feel detached from my work and other times I feel like it is the absolute embodiment of my whole. I do hope that one day I may understand my work more and that my work will lead me further along the developmental arc to a deeper understanding of life. I have already come a long way from the naive twenty year old with a dream, further than I ever imagined possible yet I know I have far to travel to realise and satisfy the questions that drive me to extremes. I have recently reached a stage where my sculpture is starting to feel secondary to the knowledge it is giving me, almost like a by-product of a search for knowledge and that my work is becoming a tool through which I gain information. Again if the world had accepted my work I would be making it for exhibition but the truth is there is little interest and so my work became the focus of my own journey of discovery and this is how it should be, I accept my fate and take it as my gift. The gift of freedom to pursue art on my own terms on a journey of discovery, what I always craved but struggled to find with all of lifes distractions.

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