Outside of the long-running ‘Fictional Artefacts’ series, there are two other series I am currently working on: “Mapping History” and “The Order of Things”.
The following two paintings are from my ‘Mapping History’ series, which is a currently ongoing body of work conceptually linked to both my ‘In Bad Dreams’ and ‘Roots’ series.
All three series explore elements of how we, as humans, construct and understand ourselves, and our experience of life. ‘In Bad Dreams’ deals in dark, traumatised experiences, in catharsis and a purging of negative emotions and experiences. ‘Roots’ is an autobiographical exploration, explicitly linking my life journey to place and mythological symbolism. In both cases I am using my own life history and experiences, abstracting them and using them as a lens to explore more ‘universal’ ideas.
This series, ‘Mapping History’, looks at how we construct our conception of place and landscape, which is inevitably abstracted and emotive. Our mental maps are abstracted presentations of physical space, rearranged and constructed by associations, by events and people. We all construct mental images, maps, of places based on specific sites of emotional resonance – a kind of geography of good and bad associations, with neutral spaces very often being ‘erased’ from memory. One example of this type of imaging would be how we conceptualise space in terms of Metro maps, station layouts divorced from ‘above ground’ geography. Another would be road maps, an arrangement and understanding of space invisible from the ground level. The Aboriginal ‘dot paintings’, as a further example, portray an abstracted vision of landscape fused with narrative, with various dots and patterns being used to illustrate sacred sites, dreamtime stories and so on. The abstraction was means of obscuring secret knowledge from the uninitiated.
I’ve borrowed/appropriated this idea for the painting on display, and the rest of the series, mapping various places I have stayed, creating an abstracted map of the area. This specific piece is of the town in the UK I am from, Burton-On-Trent, based on the road map and areas of personal significance. The paintings depict, to the initiated, areas of special resonance, and hints at passages of time and movement in the symbols scattered over the surface.
This second piece is ‘Strasbourg’ and uses the same visual references and ideas as the first piece, although this time based on Strasbourg, the city in France I lived in for a year as a child.
There are 4 more pieces planned for this series, all based on maps of places I have stayed in for significant periods of time – Johannesburg, Bangkok, Sur and Shanghai.
The order of things came about from a conflation of different inspirations – The Matrix, The Invisibles, Nine Inch Nails (especially the Year Zero album), Godflesh, Isis (the Panopticon album in particular), Jeremy Bentham, and the work of Michel Foucault.
The basic premise of the series is the exploration of underlying control systems and structures of power and bringing those to the surface. For the purposes of the series control systems were equated with Euclidean geometry, a rigid system designed to order the world.
The idea for this series is for it to be fairly wide-ranging in terms of types of images/expressions of ideas. The bulk will be comprised of minimal, geometric paintings – a textured, loose field, with groupings of geometric shapes. Combined with these will be various insertions (objects like wire, keys, nails, wood, cloth, collaged paper elements etc.) and omissions – literally parts cut out of the canvas. As an example, the first painting in the series, ‘Beneath the Surface of Things’:
A second strand of images will be digital, using my usual technique of layering images and will, as things stand in the planning process, utilize more figurative imagery along with things like binary code, linguistics and technology. The image below, ‘Right Where It Belongs’ is the first in this projected series of images.
In addition to this, I am hoping to explore some possibilities in short video ‘blips’, creating gifs and sound, all tied in with the original idea of hidden systems. Watch this space…