Artist’s Statement by Christine Fleming
I look at camouflage. Camouflage is about concealment, adaptation & protection – essential for the survival of all living things. For example, the octopus uses its’ chromatophore skin cells to mimic different textures and surroundings so that it can evade predators. Predators use camouflage for hunting their prey – the cheetah uses its spots to imitate shadow and its coat to blend in with the grass. My practice is created using mixed media because they are connected to my memory of touching an object and relating to an aspect of an animal, then using the material I see as relevant.
I look at the science of camouflage, biological phenomena that allow things to blend in and change... and survive. We are all vulnerable; we all need to hide, sometimes with stealth, sometimes in plain sight. I gained a lot of my understanding and knowledge from Sir David Attenborough. When I watched Planet Earth 2, I was inspired by seeing the octopus blending in with its surroundings, making me think of abstracting this viewpoint further.
Covid has had a significant impact on my practice because we have all been shut in and hidden from loved ones leading to the lives we once lived being hidden away; just like camouflage, we are all hidden away for our protection.
I have a notebook. It is everything. It contains my thoughts and my ideas, letting them mix, gel & grow. It recreates and then creates. It is organic, as my subject matter, slowly revealing ways forward. My ideas evolve through notation & drawing. I record, collect and consider recycling information to give form to my thoughts. I make things out of nothing but my knowledge and imagination, combine known fact through contained material and invention. This is a way to survive.
My material use is also a form of survival, using what I can find to make work, scavenging & collecting, recycling, reshaping & repurposing, making the most of what is around me to feed my ideas and impulses. Through this process, the disregarded survives, its life extended, and my process becomes a microcosm of what is required for broader environmental survival.
My personal life has impacted my practice because I have had hearing problems, which meant I felt isolated from others like I was not there because the sound was invisible to me. Another thing that has impacted my practice was my mum’s mental health illnesses; this influenced my work because this has led me to see art as a haven. Art became my very own sanctuary.
In the future, I hope to bring my work to an installation space with the videos in a dark lit room and the paintings and drawings in a well-lit room, so it seems as though the audience is fading away just like the subjects saw. I want viewers to feel like they have entered a new world that symbolises the dangers surrounding us in a new and innovative way: when people say, is there something, I want that to be people’s expressions and statements. So, overall, I see my art as a defence mechanism in my life that will see me through many of my problems because I see camouflage as a shield that will aid me in creating new worlds.
The questions I would like my artwork to answer is the hidden area of people’s life. Because in every aspect of life, there is something that is kept secret or confidential, and camouflage is just one example, and I want people to think of the things that are hidden in their lives.