Sunday, 9 February 2014

Setting Off

Setting Off
Photo Collage

I introduce myself: I am a visual artist first and foremost. I am a sculptor, primarily in clay. I also draw in graphite and coloured pencil, and recently, I have returned to acrylic painting. Part of my work refers to the theatre and modern dance work I did in the past, some of it is anchored in variations of ‘the portrait’ as derived from working with models, part of it is ironic and reflective of my experiences as an emigrant/immigrant multiple times over.
I sometimes include performances in my exhibitions to complement the visual work I exhibit.  ( I also tell and write children’s stories, and hope one day to illustrate some of them.
All this work is based on the person: in art terms ‘the figure’, in literary terms, ‘character’, in theatre terms ‘interaction’, in psychology terms ‘personality’, in phenomenological terms, ‘experience’. I am interested in the push and pull between alien and member, unconscious and aware, fated and proactive. I love the body, how it is structured, how it relates to the space in which it moves, how it expresses literally billions of individuals as they experience life while having very definitive human limitations and very individual reactions. I’m interested in who we are and in how we cope with these limitations in real time/space.
This interest also informs my work as an art educator, gallery curator and arts administrator. I serve these three functions concurrently to ‘being an artist’ in the not-for-profit sector, at what I call the front-lines level, (presently at I do this because I want to nurture a healthy relationship between artist and process, artist and artist, artist and audience and audience and work of art. I also want to encourage the so-called ‘average person’ (I’ve yet to meet one) to become an informed viewer of art and a collector of art by other people (including, hopefully mine).
In this public work, I make a distinction between art making as an essential, creative practice and art as commerce because too many people forget they are not necessarily one and the same. Making art to sell is not the same as making art that sells. And, while most artists hope for sales and all dealers expect them, making art is not automatically a compatible activity with selling it: they are two totally different intents and each needs its specific technique, process and engagement.
A major concern in the context of the gallery I curate is the idea that Sports exist outside of Culture. The sports we chose to play, the way we play them, our relationship to team or challenger, our behaviour as winners or losers all reflect our Values as a people as much as the images we create, the stories we tell and the way we behave day-to-day. Sports and Art are not mutually exclusive, nor should they be made into competitors at opposite sides of educational, social or economic debates.
I am also troubled by the attitude that engagements in Art are ‘simply’ leisure, recreational or  therapeutic activities, or by the equally confining idea that artists should all work to ‘fix’ the world. I worry about educational policies that pretend to teach Art when they actually teach through art, undermining the free choice essential to the practice by dictating style, attitude and especially message.
My journey through life is as a person who believes that human beings are reduced when Art is absent from their lives,when it is something to which they are indifferent  or even hostile. When people who cannot quantify its value question its purpose, I say that Art gives humans something else to do and share than consuming, grovelling, competing and surviving.

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