Firstly a big thank you to everyone who shared and comment on my post with my first few paintings from the Man Cunt series, as an artist it’s always great when my work resonates with people and it’s been a joy to read all your lovely comments.
EDIT: Pre-order prints now!
Hello! So in the last week I’ve started a new painting project I’ve subtly titled Man Cunt, which is basically what you would think it is. These close up acrylic paintings of my genitals are probably going to be studies for a larger painting or series of paintings, and I’m also planning on using them as the basis for a piece to submit to this prize on the theme of taboo. See below the cut for images and more info.
I know I’ve been very quiet on here for a while now, I’ve been doing lots of things and I’m planning a post taking about them all but I wanted to share this one now. I post more frequently on my Facebook page, follow me there to see what I’m up to day to day!
New painting! This is the first in what I’m hoping will be an ongoing project: the subject is a friend of mine who is transgender, after interviewing him about his relationship with his body I translated these thoughts and feelings into a body painting, and used photos from that as the basis for this painting. He was just about to have his mastectomy when I took the pictures, and I’ll do the same process in a month or so once he’s healed to make a dyptic.
My intention with this series is to explore a way to document and express people’s experience of being transgender/transsexual. Very often the focus is on appearance and aesthetics, with a focus on how well they “pass”. I’m trying to move beyond this, with expressive paintings with elements of abstraction, using the body itself as a canvas to speak about itself.
Often trans people feel like our bodies are our enemies – not all trans people experience physical dysphoria, but for those who do it can be overwhelming and affect everything about how they exist in the world. When we are able to take control of our bodies, whether through hormones/surgery or simply by how we present ourselves, we are able to come to peace and to flourish.
I I have purposely chosen to focus on my subject’s current experience rather than their history, so creating a snapshot in time. I feel like very often trans people are defined more by our history than our present; the questions people want to ask are about when we first knew, how our parents reacted etc. To me these questions are incredibly dull and don’t really communicate much about what it means to live one’s life as a trans person, especially for someone who came out and transitioned a long time ago.
Hopefully I’ll be doing more of these, so do watch this space, and get in touch if you’re trans and you’d like to be a model
I have talked in previous posts about how I’ve been thinking a lot about money in relation to my art at the moment. It’s sad that we need to think about this, but the fact is that, if I’m gong to spend as much time as it takes to make beautiful and interesting art, then I need to receive money from somewhere. The model I’ve been following in the past, the one that ended up making me feel angsty and disillusioned, was to spend several hundred hiring out a venue then hope that I sell a couple of pieces to at least make my money back. Obviously exhibitions are also the primary way that we let people see and enjoy our work and to raise our profile as an artist. The fact is that most people don’t buy art, and very few people go to a gallery with the intention of even considering making a purchase. Even if people can afford it, there are only so many pieces of art you can buy until you run out of space! I feel like this is a strange conflict of interests – I make work for people to enjoy and engage with, yet in order to make this possible I have to focus on trying to make sales.
I think that one of the issues is that the understanding of what we’re producing and selling isn’t correct. I’ve seen myself as creating objects, but in reality for most people art is an experience they have rather than an object they own. Therefore might it not be more sustainable and more interesting to find ways to focus on art as experience, and to sell the experience for a small amount to each person rather than a large amount to one? Of course for performance artists this is already what they do a lot of the time, but I have very little desire to be a performer, and I think it would be possible to try and adapt these models for visual art and installations with less of a focus on performance. I spent many years as part of a collective organising queer events with bands and performers here in Bristol (it was called FAG club and it was awesome), and I’m sure it would be possible to use the lessons from these sorts of events to create something new and exciting that would support visual artists and give people access to some awesome art.
These aren’t great pictures, but I wanted to share what I’ve been doing and it might be a while before I can get descent scans. I’ve still been painting in acrylic on canvases, but I’ve been doing abstract monochrome/duochrome paintings. These are the first two I’ve finished that I’m really pleased with. My focus is on flow and shape, creating a feeling of organic movement across the canvas, building up layers with a roller to get texture and depth. I’m really loving doing abstract painting, it feels so liberating to not be constrained by representation. It feels more like dance, focusing on the form and the composition and seeing how the shapes want to flow around and across the canvas. It also feels like it matches my new year’s resolution to not attempt to be an art business or to sell my work, or at least not do it in a way that puts pressure on me to produce work in a certain way. I was a bit worried that doing these paintings would “confuse the brand”, but now I know that I’m *not* a brand, I’m an artist, and if I want to produce good work I need to follow my own flow without putting perimeters onto it. I want to just play, to focus on creating and to see where my work takes me. This new style of painting feels very apt for this!
I’ve also found myself thinking about abstraction, and what it means for these pictures. There’s part of me that really resents the idea of people trying to see anything pictorial in them, although I know I have no control over this. I definitely have no desire to give them names that might even hint at an idea or an atmosphere. As far as I’m concerned a name or an image or an idea that there is an idea outside of the piece which it is representing would distract from it. They are flowing lines and shapes, and the relationship that each person who encounters them has with them is their own.
This is a fascinating video, I listened to it while oscillating between thinking they were being old curmudgeons and that they were getting it bang on. I think it’s a little of both, and I also think it’s just what I needed to hear right now. Even if these new upstarts aren’t destroying art and painting I’m definitely feeling more aligned to the attitude these four have!
So I’ve decided to get back into using my website for the new year, after over a year since my last
post! I’ve changed the layout and updated my gallery pages as well as others, have a look around and see what you think.
I’ve been very ill over the last few months (I spent a week in hospital at the end of October) and it’s given me a bit of perspective on what I’m doing with myself. I’ve done a lot of thinking about what I’m doing and how I’m doing it, and I feel that I’m in a better and stronger place with my work than I was last time I wrote on here. I want to focus more on the making rather than on worrying about selling, so therefore this blog will become a little more relaxed and a little more personal. I have also started painting in the last couple of months (the results of which you can see here), and it feels very refreshing to be doing something completely different and not worrying about things like confusing the brand, which I was told were super important when selling oneself as a creative professional. My hope is to do more of this, as well as exhibiting my felt work around Bristol and beyond. Continue reading “Happy new year!”