The Goldilocks Zone – it’s here somewhere…

Over the last few years, my art has shifted hugely from drawing and painting to the development of immersive installations, something that is currently a work in progress. Although it’s only been a couple of weeks, moving into a studio in The Arches has moved this process along another step. Not only is it a dedicated art-not-home space, but it means I am now part of a readymade artist community – one of the key reasons for wanting to join. This is invaluable for someone who is self-taught while working from home, as many artists are. Though comfortable (and cheap/free), it is creatively isolating and, for me at least, can become too inward-looking. After all of ine days in The Arches, I did my first crit session – not just there, but anywhere – I had never explained out loud what I do and why (i.e. my practice) beyond chatting informally with friends. I have a scientific background so have presented my work at conferences and the like, but this was very different, and not just the subject matter. First, I have to say it was a far more positive experience; yes there were questions, but it was about understanding what I do and helping develop my thoughts rather than picking holes, looking to undermine or show how clever the interrogator is (yes, scientific academia, I’m talking to you – I get refutability, but it’s how you go about it). Yes, it was critical, but also supportive and constructive. I had to think about my practice, but by the end, after just half an hour or so, I had a clearer idea of what I was trying to do. Which is…

…exploring the Anthropocene, the current geological period characterised by the effects of human activity. Given this tends to revolve around resource depletion, pollution, extinction and so on, it can be hard to find beauty in this even though finding ‘beauty in that which is not typically considered beautiful’ is one of my core creative intentions. I had produced installation components from burnt and melted waste materials, but unrelenting grimness wasn’t what I was after – appropriate possibly, but not enriching. There needs to be hope. I also didn’t want to go down a kitsch route, though ornamentation is an important element. So, it was a mini-revelation to realise mid-crit that I was trying to walk a narrow and tricky line between the two extremes, essentially trying to imagine people creating beauty from devastation as this is something I feel humans would do – to beautify and elevate their surroundings regardless of circumstances. Will I manage this? I don’t know – it’s not straightforward and I’m very much experimenting – but I’m confident something interesting will come out of it. As ever here are some images showing what’s happened so far:

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