When beginning a project I often set myself locality ‘boundaries’ which vary from just a few streets around my studio to entire suburbs, and recently with the L.A. Project, whole cities. The work becomes a documentation of time and place, a unique reference to when and where it was made. This connection to place and the recording of personal experience as I navigate within defined borders has always been at the core of my practice. Although the trajectory of my practice over the past 5 years now sees a focus primarily on painting, the core tenets of my interests are still evident in the collection and documentation of found material used as reference for my paintings.
I recently discovered the French term ‘Flaneur’ described in the early 19th century by the writer Charles Baudelaire as – ‘a person who walks the city in order to experience it’. Over the years the idea of the Flaneur has accumulated significant meaning as a referent for understanding urban phenomena and modernity.
Baudelaire saw the Flaneur as having a key role in understanding, participating and portraying the city. A Flaneur thus displayed a double role in city life and in theory, that is, while remaining a detached observer. This stance, simultaneously part and apart from, combines sociological, anthropological, literary and historical notions of the relationship between the individual and the greater populace. Baudelaire asserted that social changes brought by industrialization demanded that the artist immerse himself in the metropolis and become, “a botanist of the sidewalk”…. a man of the people who enters into the life of his subjects with passion.*
The conceptual premise of my practice is underpinned by the appropriation and reinterpretation of readymade abstract designs that exist in the urban environment. Stripped from their original context these elements are elevated from their often prosaic or mundane states and become a celebration of the overlooked. Elements as diverse as street signage, outdoor advertising, product packaging, book and record covers, store packaging, patterns on trucks and the angular designs from the sides of caravans. I consider anything and everything as possible reference for my work as I navigate the landscape.
I am interested in how people perceive the things around them, how often the simplest and most beautiful things go unnoticed. What attracts me to certain types of forms and designs beyond their abstract potential is their ‘commonness’ and the seemingly invisibility to most people. I am attempting to re-present these things back to the viewer as new way of looking at abstraction which sits somewhere between high and low art. A language of form stripped from popular culture without hierarchy that can be enjoyed and understood by all audiences.