“I’ve made some things for you, Constant Reader; you see them laid out before you in the moonlight. But before you look at the little handcrafted treasures I have for sale, let’s talk about them for a bit, shall we? […] And do come a little closer. I don’t bite.” – Stephen King, Bazaar of Bad Dreams
My practice is an investigation into how we attempt to understand the world through journeying; the objects and experiences collected along the way. As in this Stephen King quote I’m seeking these little treasures that seem desirable, yet often carry ominous undertones. The desire of tourists to purchase the unknown to own or experience the exotic, but only within the safety of Westernised limits.
I am interested in ideas of otherness or how we as Westerners try to belong to this otherness. To gain esoteric knowledge has become a sort of fashion, but our impact often falls heavily on tradition. When visiting Palenque I saw some of the last remaining direct descendents of Mayans, posing for photographs with tourists. They were in traditional dress yet on their feet were plastic Crocs.
Alongside my practice I write stories that blend the genuine with the imagined. Returning slightly to notions of the fairytale that are loaded within the title or the space of the painting. The girl whose hair petrified into a waterfall could surely have been a fireside tale. What’s more many of my paintings are set within the wood, which carries with it many ominous culturally accepted connotations. Although my woodland often comes in less foreboding hyper-real colours, that swirl through the painting bombarding and disorientating you in a different way to the deep dark wood, there is still something unsettling, ready to bite.
The paintings too create a truth that exists within the realm of painting by cutting, sticking and pasting together perhaps un-related or geographically distant memories. They build like maps, plotting a personal journey around the world using the way in which we filter our experiences down into essential objects and memories. I have built a language of motifs from these collected objects and moments. Swirling backgrounds of saccharine colours are brought into focus by these motifs: Much like memories that are sometimes only hazy colours contrasted with more sharply defined snapshots.
My work functions on many levels in oppositions: domestic/exotic, painterly / linear, 2D / 3D. Interplay between 2D mediums and 3D sprung from a desire to make physical the motifs of my paintings: To create my own souvenirs. Much like purchasing souvenirs we wish to quantify them in our Western mind, to make them less fearful and unknown.
We collect these souvenirs to bring with us on our continuing journey, yet they are mostly only masquerading as genuine and hardly diminish the gap in understanding to the exotic.