Video came first in a practical sense, but it was the theory that first evolved. My enjoyment, and art of expression towards seeing masterpieces of cinema was the first steps towards where I am now. Over the past decade I have shifted more to the practical, but I have kept that inner knowledge of ‘seeing’, both in my work and in others.
I’ve taken on many guises over the years. That of the film student, the student filmmaker, the wannabe feature filmmaker, award winning filmmaker, video artist, painter, art magazine editor and now I find myself sat at what I consider to be my final resting place after being, in my own mind, obtuse to what the pleasure was I had been seeking. This might sound egotistical, self indulgent, hipster and yet couldn’t be farther from the truth, that I simply consider myself a brut artist, one who resides outside the ‘mainstream’ and has no desire to be in it.
I suppose that this evolved through a process of both reflection and ageing. I’ve never been the most social of creatures, far from it, and in turn have found myself becoming more and more self isolated as time passes. I found I could no longer connect to the ‘film’ world (despite the fact I don’t think there is one in the U.K). It was tedious. A ‘boy and his toys’ mentality. If you didn’t have the latest equipment, if you weren’t willing to exploit yourself and, most importantly, if you aren’t willing to stand in front of 2 rectangular advertising boards which dictate whatever event you are at is glamorous, then you’re not allowed into that world.
So turning my back on that, and also desiring a quicker form of art, I progressed and regressed through the ranks of creation. I believe, and have yet to propose conclusion, that I am at a stage now where I will continue to be throughout. One where I make videos with my iPhone, where I shoot 35mm film with the Lomokino, and most importantly one where I create work on any form of material that allows me to be aggressive and expansive. It now has to be tangible for me. I need to see it yes, but to touch and to smell is of the upmost importance.
What are the differences and similarities between your paintings and you films?
There is only difference I would like to think. With my film work, I take my time. I plan, and theorise, and conjure the moments of capture in my head over and over again in an attempt to adjust for the un-adjustable. I keep simple. No camera trickery and no editing overlays. I find a place where shots can linger and yet still keep focus and meaning.
My artwork, is aggressive, fast, almost instinctive. I’m still meandering through that area so for me it’s an untamed landscape, and I grab at anything I can find, which is why my work varies a fair amount. It has to keep moving, it doesn’t have to have meaning, but it does need to be quick and cheap. I consider my artwork, especially the drawings, as a release to the constant slow build of my video/film work.
The idea of simplicity is very important in your work. How did it come to this?
Between 2 and 5 years ago I was honoured with successive film awards and everything seemed to be going in the right direction towards that unsustainable independent film career. Somewhere along that path, amidst the disgruntlement and inner angst I sort of lost my way. I became entrenched in the notions of the high edit. CGI, overlays, fast choppy editing, stories that festivals might want that reeked of the incomprehensible. A short film called HUM was the glass house that broke. It was a film of beautiful moments, but it felt cobbled together and was a bit all over the place. It was too abstract for film festivals, too story orientated for galleries, too long for short and too short for long. So I stepped away.
I suppose a relatively short period of time of total inactivity and reflection, and I don’t mean that in a whimsical way, I really did burrow down to my inner. From that I seem to have come back with a desire for something else. One where simplicity is king, and my desire to show something beautiful, and then hold it.
What influences do you have and where do you get inspiration from?
If you’d have asked me that question a couple of years ago I’d have reamed off a list of Lynch, Jarmusch, Herzog, Von Trier etc. Now it poses a much more difficult response, as frankly I don’t know anymore. I don’t really watch anything anymore, I read but that is for some escapism, and I try not to analyse the work of other more traditional artists as I don’t want to gravitate towards any particular style that’s not my own. I have to find that myself. So I would say I am currently influence-less, and as for inspiration, everywhere. I think it has to be everywhere doesn’t it? It cannot be singular, as you must sponge everything around you. A conversation overheard, the sight of an event or moment, hustles of the city streets or the quiet of the countryside interrupted only by nature during a moment of being wistful.
What was the best or most interesting thing someone said to you regarding your work?
A wonderful woman I used to lecture alongside, who was very much so an artist who could say ‘been there and done that’. Whilst she was in London she visited a gallery that was showing a video piece I had made, and she rang me after viewing to give me her critique, and she definitely doesn’t hold back from speaking her mind. Her response was “I wanted to lick the screen”, and that has stuck with me as it was my first ever peer response but also it conjured such a graphic moment. Not that she enjoyed it or loved it or hated it, but that she was drawn to it in an expression of physicality.
What will you be working on next?
Currently I am multitasking. Having recently re-found my desire to make video again I have begun creating my own universe again. The Concinnity Cycle (www.theconcinnitycycle.com) is a form of poetic meandering, through the stages of an artists journey, a performers journey, a persons journey. This project is fusing my artwork and video work, a symbiotic relationship. As of right this moment is a piece entitled ‘Lachrymose of Earth’, my ode to the earth, which i am due to complete in the next month or so.
Also continuing my artwork, capturing and displaying the post industrial North of England landscape, either on traditional canvas or my more preferred recycled cotton rag paper.
Finally I am editor of a new printed art zine, called Wagpasties (www.wagpasties.com), where I am finding and displaying works from fellow Art Brut creators. A celebration of the hidden.