To be on the outside looking in, wondering where we belong in the world is a common feeling. To feel lost and out of time, physically and mentally, longing for something which remains elusive. A craving for an unattainable permanence, a home, a love, a place in time, a memory, in an ever transient existence.
My work aims to achieve a visual landscape through painting, printmaking and songwriting. I am fascinated by the idea of Hauntology, a nostalgia or longing for a lost future that never quite came into being. This is epitomised by the Brutalist architecture and modernist roadscapes of post war 20th Century Britain and by the pop culture of 1970s and 1980s music and TV. The layers of history still exist in our urban landscapes and my work encourages others to slow down and look at the environment they are part of, the estates, shopping centres, bus stations, concrete flyovers and motorways, finding a lost memory, a sense of belonging or identity, a trace of the self in the outside world.
I use long urban hikes around the landscapes of Britain’s towns and cities as a starting point for my work. I walk the edgelands, the other spaces, setting a different pace against the normal flow of society at work, attempting to alter reality, or enter a different reality and capture it. I romanticise the unloved, the concrete, the derelict, the unseen. Brutalist architecture and concrete structures are modern monoliths, representing lost utopian futures from the latter part of the 20th Century when I was born. They still preside over this brave new world of smart phones and glass towers but go unnoticed by busy crowds. My walks look to connect structures together, searching for otherworldly lines, energy, the spirit of place.
My generation, Xennials (apparently those born between 1977 and 1982) grew up in an analogue world but became adults in the digital age, the last generation to experience an internet free childhood. There is a sense of loss for a future that seemed plausible in 1970s and 80s TV, music and film but which in reality never came to pass. I want to capture this sense of being suspended in time with my work. The paintings in particular take a long time to produce, using a ritualistic hands on process of stencilling multiple layers of paint with straight edge tape, a process similar to the printmaking processes of Lino and screen printing.
These themes of Hauntology, place and memory, time and loss, loneliness and longing for shared experience and in a broader sense 20th Century pop culture, are all present in my lyric writing for The Long Blondes, as well as my solo songwriting work and visual art. With my work I am trying to evoke feelings of belonging, security and permanence, connection to place and to those around us as well as to our past and our to ancestors, at the same time reminding us that all is transient and in a constant state of becoming.
“Dream life the way you think it ought to be”
The Human League