The More you try to erase me the more I will appear

My apologies for the long period between blogs, (for anyone out there taking notice!) but I have had a long period of being incapacitated.

Spending days and even weeks in isolation and darkness, in pain and not sleeping can be very challenging for your mental health. One way that I deal with this, besides the loving support from my family, is to explore these feelings through my artwork.

The degenerative nature of my disability, and these periods of dark isolation in contrast to those beautiful days where I can get out and enjoy life, drive the conceptual content behind the way I make work.

I haven’t been able to get into my studio recently, but the image shown in this blog is something I have manipulated this week. It utilises photography; painting and digital processes to explore the patterns and colours that come from the degradation of image. This aesthetic is something that has to be discovered, rather than planned, providing both positive and negative effects, much like my illness.

It is part of a series of work that I have titled Light in Dark Places, images that explore the ideas I have just mentioned, whilst also making references to the music I listen to when I am bed-bound or unwell. As I find it increasingly difficult to get to galleries, music has become my primary influence for both subject and process. The rich layering of sound, complementing the lyrical narrative and emotion of the music are things that I attempt to visualise.

“The more you try to erase me the more I will appear” is a lyric from a Radiohead song, the image uses my own reflection/shadow to provide the shape within the image that is most visible and vibrant. Contrasting against the bleached, highlighted shapes that are created by the bright sky outside (behind me).

I effectively create a camera obscurer, either in a darkened room using light entering through the window, or by finding a dark enclosure in nature, such as woods, and using the light and colours of the day, shining in through the canopy, casting my shadow/silhouette onto a pre-selected artwork. This way, the work becomes a collective response of me; my artwork; the location I’m in and the specific light/colour and weather of that particular day. Making the work unique to that day, and unrepeatable.

This practice is specifically used for this series of work (Light in Dark Places) and hopefully the title of this series starts to make sense alongside how my disability affects me.

Frustration Sept 2018

It has been a pretty good summer as far as spending time with my family goes, and this is where I have focused my energy. As always there is a pay-off for this when you have limited energy and half of your time you are immobile.

Managing my disability has always been about choosing when and how you prioritize what you can do. This time, it meant sacrificing my artwork and I’m glad I did. This doesn’t mean that the creative urges go away, and there is a build up of frustration and energy that can only be satisfied by working on my art ideas. I’m addicted to it I suppose and I’m getting full on withdrawal symptoms.

The ideas bouncing around in my head need to be visualized to resolve them and I’m hoping that I can start on this very soon.

I have been busy with exhibiting. Overseas and in the UK. My next is in Cambridge this October, as part of “Mind the Gap”. Supporting mental health awareness and charities. Please follow my social media for details and updates.

My work, although on hold, has remained focused upon the ideas of degradation. Related to age and illness, utilizing the unexpected outcomes of both physical and digital intervention. My experiences also play there part, with a nervous system that doesn’t function correctly and a general condition that varies so dramatically from day to day, I attempt to portray these in the work, but I guess they are more things that help me in the process rather than being “out there” for an audience to see.

I have included a section of exploratory work, using these ideas along with my recent interest in reflections which I can talk about another time.

Hopefully my next blog will be about new work and I will have had my creative fix.

Please follow my social media to see more updates and images.

Degradation June 2018

Over the past few months, I have been trying to explore a new aesthetic, moving away from the therapeutic landscape images and working with concepts more directly related to my experiences of living with a disability and degenerative condition. The notion that although age and illness are causing degradation in my body, I can still find positives in my new found lifestyle; even if they were not as planned. This idea has filtered more and more into my working practices and conceptual concerns. Using both physical and digital processes, I explore the degradation of an image in order to find an new aesthetic. After all, isn’t this why we love antiques so much? old houses; classic cars. The ageing process doesn’t just degrade, it leaves something behind, adding to the object. nostalgia and memory play their part too but the imperfections aren’t necessarily negative.

I have just completed my 2 year Cultivate mentoring program with DASH, which was so helpful and built my confidence to be more experimental in my work. I would recommend any disabled artist to sign up for the next intake if you need help with your practice or exhibition plans etc. My next step is to develop proposals for the Arts Council funding and exhibit more widely.

I hope to blog more regularly if my condition allows, I would welcome any comments as I enjoy constructive criticism and debate.

Thank you for your patience

Alan

Feb 2018 Blog New Art Project

It’s been quite some time since my last blog, 2017 proved to be a very difficult year with my condition and other factors hitting hard. I was only able to complete one painting but I did manage to exhibit it at the Leicester New Walk Museum and Art Gallery for the LSA show, I even won a prize so that was a positive end to the year at least.

In the hope that 2018 will be better I have started a new art project. Exploring my disability, the chronic pain and fatigue; focusing upon the senses of loss; anger and inadequacy that I am feeling.

Early ideas explore the idea of partially removing existing artwork, an act of anger or some kind of surgical procedure? I’m not sure but there is a new aesthetic that I am finding interesting. The physical act of removing (sanding, scraping) parts of paintings is rather challenging for me so I am also exploring photographic and digital ideas too. Again they explore a sense of inadequacy, looking at reproductions, poor photographic technique and damaged images in order to explore a new aesthetic that I feel connects with how I am feeling, how my condition impacts upon the way I see and create art and ultimately life in general.

I have included a self-portrait reflection photograph, the production of this uses a reproduction, re-photographed with my shadow creating a partial reflection, obscuring the original image in a detrimental way but combining to create a new image.

I aim to explore other ideas that explore aspects that may seem to have less “value” in art, hoping that finding new values within these ideas may help to express something that I feel more connected to rather than working in a more conforming manner.