Unfortunately, I have not updates my blog that much over the Christmas break. I feel like this is a result of the fact that Substance took so much out of me, and felt like after I had put so much time and effort into it, my motivation fizzled out. Much like the cold of Winter, it’s been hard to spark up a fire in my inspiration for a long while now. However, Death has begun to inch back into my mind over the past couple of weeks, and this piece of graffiti really stuck with me; down a path by the river Taff, around 20 metres apart, there was a set of Graffiti; one was the piece shown above, and the other, facing the other way down the path, read ‘Salvation’. I found these pieces of graffiti in the dark of an evening walk, and I immediately felt in tune with it; Death and Salvation, two sides of the same coin, changing your course is as simple as turning one way or the other in life.
Near to the graffiti, I began to gain an interest in the cathedral situated in Llandaff. There is a window, pictured above, that is lit up when it grows dark. As you can see, there is an uncanny resemblance to a Skull, which I saw a great number of in the gothic churches within Rome. This rather ominous image, often associated with Death,but juxtaposed against a building which provides hope for so many, intensely fascinates me. Why would it be crafted in such a way? what way does the symbolism aid the message that the church may try to get across? Of course, Worship and Death are so intrinsically linked, and this began to create an inspiration for me to craft some form of black, window frame much like above.
This idea started to take form, and the black, monolithic church windows began to become a real interest of mine. But then, something pivotal happened; my Auntie Shirley died. Cancer, again. This spurred me off into a new direction, one that has gained some gross fascination with these lumps of death within our body, a product of an overactive defect in our bodies. How can something that does so much good; rebuilding parts of our own cellular structure, end up causing so much damage?
I began to experiment with different techniques of drawing these ‘tumours’, first in a medium I had utilised before; pastel, allowing me to create tumours that held a certain colourful ‘energy’, allowing me to keep a vivid colour scheme to something so dark and deathly. This foray into colour was also an interesting break from my regular method of working, in which I stick to the darker shades of Red and Brown with a great commitment to Blacks and greys. I also begun to look at how tumours appeared when formed outside of the body. Which can be seen in the second image; which sticks to my regular choice in colours, but also plays with a more ‘scab-like’ texture. Something a bit more rough, dry, than the fleshy wetness more often associated with the inside of the body.
However, there was a development in my work again when me and Sarah decided to spend a day in the sea-life aquarium in Birmingham, which was brilliant in itself; seeing such strange and beautiful creatures around us where ever we turned; it was brilliant. However, what really interested me about the day was the tentacled creatures; and more specifically the jellyfish.
The way the jellyfish drifted around their tanks, through the viscous fluid, unaware of what they were doing; a nervous system, somehow detached from a body and acting of it’s own accord. It really struck a chord with me, and sparked an idea that I began to pursue; black, tentacled forms drifting through the expanse of the body, there was something beautifully deadly about such a concept. A flowing, living embodiment of the blackness that cancer creates in the body; Necrosis, cellular death, how can I push these concepts into something like a drawing? It is hard enough with my usual medium of sculpture, but for now, I will pursue a means of showcasing this through the art of Drawing.
I had an idea that these black jellyfish could inhabit a coral reef, with it’s pink and red shades it would resemble something fleshy. This connection with organs, of something that is eaten away, or even taken over, by these black tentacled beings. It reminds me of the struggles of those who have died in my family of Cancer; and how we attempt to deal with it. The past few deaths, of my Aunties Shirley and Ann, have both been from Cancerous tumours. Ann had one in her brain, and was given two weeks to live; she died just two days later. Shirley was said to have had a few weeks left, and she died two days later as well. Often times, those that have died throughout my life of this disease have gained it in their lungs. Usually as a result of smoking, and I have a great fear; my lungs are already weak as they are, incredibly so, and my immune system hasn’t been the best throughout my years on this earth. The beings I draw not only symbolise the cancer that I fear and feel I need to come to terms with, but also death, that all consuming ultimatum that I am still terrified to face at the end of my time on this earth.
A quick piece drawn on the floor of the Abacus during an exhibition recently
‘Poison’, 2014, Pen on paper
‘Venom’, 2014, Pen on Paper
Then I had a breakthrough; I will work on a small scale, with more detail than I have ever worked with before. This is where the two works above came from; Poison & Venom were experiments in patience, as a means of learning a technical skill, something different to my standard work. I really like how the pieces came out, they have an air of etherealness to them, as they float through the void that they are drawn upon. The monochromatic colour scheme of it is what I like the most, which from a distance blends all the lines into one flat grey, but on closer inspection, one can see the detail.
Then, through my research, I came across a book entitled ‘Programmed cell death in Tumours and Tissues’ and showcases the way that cells are structured to die after time, even if they are in a tumour, or simply in the tissue that resides in our body. We often do not think about a tumour as a part of our own bodies, but it is so deeply entwined within our body’s structure that it becomes increasingly harder to remove it from the body. There is an image in the book of the cellular structure of cells under attack from cancerous cells; the colouration of the image is a combination of shade s of purple and red, with a few hints of blue. This scheme grants a sense of calm and etherealness to the pieces, and creates an interesting juxtaposition against the deadliness of the tumour. There is an interesting divide between the two areas of the work, the dark, expressive nature of the black tumours, and the calming, ethereal nature of the colourful, more detailed tumours. I find a sense of mourning, of release, in the creation of these two varieties of drawing. The one is focused on discipline, and the other is an expressive release. There is also a reference to the organic nature of the colourful tumours, something more human, as if they are amalgamations of the very nature of our flesh.