Just what are we doing? Where are we headed? As another frenetic December draws to a close and we reach the end of the holiday season we all pause to take stock of what’s happened and what we’d like to become next.
I’ve always wondered why we bother. New Year seems to be a way for people to start afresh with promises and delusions. But why bother doing that just because the year has increased by one? Is it that the change in digits reminds us that time is ticking along far too fast and that we need to make positive changes in the way we are whilst we still can? Or is it fanciful thinking of another kind? We’re trying to start over… and over… and over again as the years progress so that we can feel that life is worth living and that there is hope for something better.
We’re always chasing memories. We’re hunting down the positive ones from the recesses of our minds and promising ourselves that we’ll build a more optimistic future. I try to do this regularly and not wait until the clock strikes in the New Year. Promises to ourselves should be made regularly and with conviction rather than half-heartedly because we feel we should. I think this is why New Year’s resolutions so easily fall by the wayside by the time we reach the Spring.
We Wear Our Faded Memories is a consideration of how wrap ourselves in our rose-tinted past after we’ve created a vision for ourselves out of our experiences. We use photographs to remind us of who we were. Snapshots are just that, a snapped shot; a hint at a moment that we’ve kept due to its positive place in our family history. Our flawed memories only have the image to cling to. We probably don’t remember the moments immediately before or after the picture was taken. We probably don’t even remember the moment itself, but since the picture is witness to us having been there, and that this is a happy smiling moment, then it must be a positive and worth carrying forward.
I do not know if I remember this happening or if I’ve seen the picture so many times that I have a false recollection that I was there. I’m not sure if being witness to my own memory is even that important at all. The location now has changed beyond recognition. There is nothing to directly link the current me to this younger me other than the faded paper memory I hold in my hand. We Wear Our Faded Memories is a way of taking the memory beyond the paper and owning it by painting it onto clothing. My recollection of the photograph is now a tangible entity and reworked into something current. It’s a physical manifestation of memory which I can take forward into the New Year and beyond.
- We Wear our Faded Memories [detail of work in progress; paint on fabric]
Having so many exhibitions all over the place is a wonderful thing. It means people have the opportunity to see my art in the flesh so to speak. I’m always aware though that no matter how local you are there are always a multitude of reasons why you can’t get to the gallery. Sometimes it’s a time thing, sometimes it’s a health thing, and sometimes it’s just an apathy thing. I get it. I’m not offended. Life has priorities and sometimes leaving the sofa and going to a gallery isn’t one of them.
Tis is the season for sharing. Why there has to be a season I don’t know. I figure that sharing is something that should be done all year round. So if you want to see my art but haven’t got the energy, or the time, then you can see it whenever you like over on YouTube. Click HERE or view it below as many times as you like. The show runs until January.
I wasn’t always an artist* although in my soul I always felt like I was meant to be an artist. I didn’t have any direction or any goals as to how I could possibly escape a 70hr working week and make any of this happen. When I finally found a way to change direction in 2005 and start on my arts journey I had three goals:
1. To exhibit somewhere, anywhere!
2. To have my own solo show.
3. To exhibit at the Glynn Vivian Gallery in Swansea.
The first goal I achieved before I’d even started on any arts course and whilst I was still a maths teacher. I entered a photograph back in 2007 for a competition called Postcards in the Park. As a runner up I exhibited at Mile End Pavilion in London. At exactly the same time the world Lomography conference was happening in London and I was also exhibiting right in the middle of Trafalgar Square. I felt like I’d won the lottery. Is this how it was going to be for the rest of my art career? Cucumber sandwiches and champagne with Joanna Lumley? Well, no. I got lucky I suppose and the long years of slog then set in with little exhibitions all over the UK and eventually the world.
The second goal I achieved shortly after graduating from Photography in the Arts in 2010. My first solo show was at elysium gallery here in Swansea in 2011. Called Self [other] it showed eight large collage pieces that I’d spent the best part of a year working on. Some of these pieces sold whilst other smaller pieces I created as a spin off from this went on to show in New York. So far so good. I’ve had a few solo shows since. I’m not planning another solo show for a while since it takes such an immense amount of work to put together a collection worthy of the space.
The third goal has been very illusive. I’ve been in group shows across the world. Next year I’m showing in Australia. This year it’s been Serbia, USA, and various places across the UK. Since 2007 I’ve hit nearly every continent but still, getting a show closer to home hasn’t been a forthcoming opportunity. The Glynn Vivian Open Exhibition used to be here every year but the gallery closed for such a long time to have a refit I never thought I’d have the opportunity to show here. Even before it closed I felt a little intimidated. I hadn’t yet found my artistic voice and wasn’t sure that I’d want to face the rejection of not being selected. Even this year I hesitated before entering. I’d convinced myself that I wasn’t good enough, which is ridiculous given that in 2014 I was good enough to show my work at New York Fashion Week. I think the real reason is that I wasn’t sure I wanted to set myself up for the failure of not realising my third and final goal. So imagine my surprise when I got in.
It’s been 12 years since I set myself my three goals. I’ve been to places that I never imagined and achieved far more than I ever expected. So what goals should I set myself now? Where could I go from here? I don’t know. I do know that I made the right choices in getting to where I am today. It’s not been easy but I’m a far happier person now I’m here. The future is a wonderful place to be in. I can’t wait to see what the next 12 years will have in store for me.
The Glynn Vivian will be showing my work until the start of January. Open daily (not Mondays).
*I used to teach high school maths.