First steps toward the research question

Forward,Backward

oil on canvas

Everything we experience and the choices we make can enable us to change and grow. Time transforms us and our understanding of the world, altering our hopes and forming new realities.

Through my paintings – using two or three images together – I aim to contrast some of those bygone memories (and the prophesies we made for the future years ago) with the reality of a new world, within the context of life having been lived.

In Forward, Backward the main figure is looking forward to the future, while the smaller figure on the monorail is looking away. The building is a detail of the Buckminster Fuller Biosphere built for the Montreal Expo 67 World Fair. Fuller envisaged that, by today, there would be towns built inside biospheres like this, and that we would control the climate within these domes. There have been several built (to a smaller scale than he imagined): the Eden Project and an ongoing eight-year experiment where volunteers have been sealed into one in Arizona's Sonora Desert, to name just two. Monorails, too, are limited in number, although the DLR and other train lines that run above the ground are similar.

I have painted blurred images that suggest the indistinct way we recall facts and how unlikely it is that the future unfolds as we expected.

Hindsight I and II

oil on canvas

Hindsight is the first experiment I made using the super 8 film images as a reference point for my works.

I originally painted this diptych using images from a video playback photographed from the television screen. These colours are jarring and unrealistic. I repainted them using  images photographed from a super 8 projector. The yellowing hues are perceived as more aged. The circles on the paintings were already punched into the celluloid film images that I used (as it was the end of the reel), and I added a second figure on the left to look as though she was watching her past self.

The Migrants' Plight

I began with an interest in crowds; the dynamics of a crowd and the feeling of an individual being part of that crowd.

Some of the most traumatic crowds are those of migrants forced to flee their homes when untold disasters have befallen them. They risk their lives, particularly at sea, travelling miles, and often continents, in search of refuge. 

 

On unseaworthy boats, with limited knowledge of navigation, they can lose their path, suffer thirst, hunger and bad weather, driven by the search for safety on an unknown shore.

 

Do they choose this path because they have lost so much and feel there is nothing left to lose? 

In this body of work, I explored the difficult choices refugees have to make. This has led me to reflect on how all of us strive to live our best life.

The Perils of Safety

mixed media

The Perils of Safety are four panels that hang together. I chose to give each panel a different mixed-media approach, where my choice of medium would represent the many decisions, perils and outcomes that undertaking such journeys could lead to. The one thing that unifies all of them is a book I found on navigation which I have included as the structure of the boat as it is unlikely that many of them have any knowledge of navigation.

Studies oil on board one with collage

These are studies I made in oil, collage and screen printing before I began The Perils of Safety.

Trepidation

Screen print

In Southern Italy, I saw many people originally from the African continent on the beach every day in 45-degree heat, touting their wares to the holiday-makers enjoying the heatwave by the sea. I wondered if they had crossed the water in an overcrowded boat and what other ordeals had they suffered to arrive at that point, and how bad must their life have been for them to have made the choice to leave their home for an alien land and start again.

I used a mixture of collage, watercolour and conte crayon to portray their plight in a re-creation of the beach I had been on.

 

I began to think of where they might go at the end of their day, and where it was that they now called home compared to places they may have lived in the past. I found reference images of possible shelters and I constructed a model of one. I used a combination of items I had found, sewing and gluing the pieces together.

 

Dwelling 

model, mixed media

Ghost of their former life

mixed media