I am a multidisciplinary Artist working in installation, film and assemblage. My work addresses social interaction, global inter connectivity, the environment, borders and a sense of place.
My work recently has focused on large scale interventions involving the public and mirrors. These pieces have been activist in their nature and mostly responding to political events - including immigration and civil rights. These include a piece called Ray of Hope which involved a kilometre long line of people either side of the U.S/Mexican border. Each participant wore a mirrored mask which reflected the sun to create a 1000 metre line of light bisecting the border wall.
Mirrors have held significance for me since childhood. Early experiments with photography and camera obscura led me to become more interested in their physical properties than the image they assisted in creating.
Summer holidays spent dismantling SLR cameras, slide projectors and sending morse code signals created an obsession with optics and light, or more specifically, sunlight.
When combined with the power of the sun, the light from a mirror is such that it can be seen over 50 miles away. This potential enables large scale images across the landscape to be produced and has been utilised as a means of communication for centuries.
Reflected sunlight now personally represents an ethereal energy symbolising human spirit, hope or life itself.
I find this interesting when juxtaposed against the historical symbolism of the mirror as portal to the underworld as the individual contemplates their own reflection/mortality. In the age of the selfie, this intrigues me greatly.
The fascinating simplicity of a mirror gives me both material and metaphorical inspirational.
Another significant piece was called EU SOS which involved over 500 people with mirrors on the white cliffs near Brighton sending a symbolic SOS call to mainland Europe. (This piece took place on the day which Brexit was first meant to happen and was situated right between a Leave and Remain counties.) Most recently I organised an 80 metre circle of people with mirrors on the Northern Irish border for the second Brexit day.
These interventions take the navigational forms of lay lines as their inspirational source; ancient and invisible routes across the country which form the basis of our present network of towns, transport links, place names and borders.
Territories and borders have been a present theme in my life from growing up along Offa’s Dyke (the historic border between England and Wales.) Crossing over an invisible yet tangible border to go to school or the shops is a routine which feels as natural as it does unnatural. Subtle changes in street signs, building materials, accents and attitudes is something which I have observed and normalised. Navigational lines and the inner mapping of the landscape whether rural or urban, physical or phycological is ingrained in my daily life.
Appreciating and reacting to the urban as if it were rural and the countryside as if it were a city is a process I find greatly rewarding and informs my approach.
Working outdoors and within the environment and embedding something so that it becomes part of the community is important to me. Assimilating into everyday life and working on locatiob forms the basis of my practice. Location and place are important. Using materials from and found in an environment. Playfulness and the positive in bringing members of the public together and including them within an artwork. Through working on the Street I aim to break down personal space both physical and mental and allow participants to experience these ideas and consider my ideas and what I am bringing attention to.
I've collected found objects obsessively for over 20 years now. This process began in childhood with collecting stones, fossils and artifacts in ploughed fields along the Welsh Marches. Litter also had great impact on me as a child. In a rural environment a discarded crisp packet becomes something so obvious that it demands to be picked up. Occasionally this litter may be a handwritten note or train ticket which betrays the history of it’s previous owner and gradually becomes a part of a collection.
Environmental sustainability is an important to me. Recycling forms part of the origin of my collecting though is a secondary driving force. I view my compulsion to collect what I consider litter as a non artistic action which sits alongside a more rewarding sense of hunting for objects to be used as materials. Occasionally the two overlap.
Today these collections of found objects can be categorised into items of which multiples can be found such as soles of shoes, crushed lighter heads, arms of glasses, destroyed credit cards etc. and unique objects which hold a biographical echo of the past owner or place it was found. A third category is reserved for objects I find interesting for their patina such as pieces of metal, plastic or paper.
The assemblages I subsequently create act both as personal diary, social anthropological record and historic document of place. As someone who is strongly attached to materials; found objects hold great talismanic value and have huge potential to titillate my inner Magpie. In the past I have returned specifically to a street corner having regretted not picking up an object which I passed earlier in the day. I have constructed the simple rule that if something interested me enough to pick it up I will take it back to the studio and let it sit alongside the rest of the collection. If it still remains interesting then it becomes part of a work.