During my undergraduate degree in Photography and Video Production I was influenced heavily by Canadian photographer Jeff Wall’s practice and its dialogue with painting. His process of producing images could be wrapped up in to the phrase; “I begin by not photographing” (San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, 2010). This is to see something, not photograph it, hang on to the idea, and then fabricate it later when you are in complete control of the environment.
There was something about recreating an observation on your own terms that seemed so new and innovative to me, but sat so conformably in the canon of art history, of memory, of perception, of how we want things to be. Photography trains you to do two things; to stand back and look at a scene, and to consider how you will frame and present that scene to an audience.
This method of working speaks somewhat to Holden (2015) who suggests “The younger generation of creators are omnivorous in their approach to culture, are good at seeing connections and moving ideas from one part of culture to another. But it is the attitude of people that matters most: they are open and receptive, always scanning their environment for things that might be useful” (p.14). I feel very much part of the generation he speaks of. A generation who will not be satisfied until they live out their curatorial dreams. This omnivorous approach is likely what steered me in to the arms of ‘the curatorial’ via ongoing roles as an artist and technician.
There is an attempt in my work as an artist to explore and understand the world through curiosity and a commitment to social mobility. Making historically referenced works across multiple and unlimited forms is the way this inquiry is formalised. There is a refusal in the work to having a recognisable, signature style to become ‘known’ for. Court Painter (2012) and Living Legacies (2013) were the subject of shows at both Bristol’s newest and oldest major art galleries, that provided the springboard for private commissions.
Researchers and artists have always been my celebrities. In my opinion they continue to prove themselves uncompromising in their pursuit of positive change, leaving religions and politicians in their wake. I once heard someone say “You can fall in love with anyone if you hear their story.” The problem I’m ultimately trying to solve through my work is that not enough people hear, see or become sensitive to the stories of research until there is a crisis, sometimes not even then. Researchers, creative practitioners and audiences should all be excited by the idea that research can become anything, and not be satisfied with a familiar, default position.
Holden, J. (2015) The Ecology of Culture. Swindon: Arts and Humanities Research Council.
San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (2010) Jeff Wall: “I begin by not photographing” Available at: youtube.com/watch?v=2yG2k4C4zrU
Wall, J. (1978) The Destroyed Room [photograph]. Available at: tate.org.uk/whats-on/tate- modern/exhibition/jeff-wall/jeff-wall-room-guide/jeff-wall-room-guide-room-1