My working methods combine historic aesthetic with contemporary materiality to document and preserve the period in which we are living. Through keeping up to date with global news, I use objects to translate these messages into scenes that visually symbolise specific current affairs that I believe are important to address. Although I create scenes that incorporate contemporary materials and messages, I use traditional working methods such as the use of candlelight and oil paints to pay homage to historic artists. I often refer to seventeenth century Dutch still life artists who used objects to symbolically narrate the socio-political and economical beliefs of that time whilst also visualising their understanding of mortality and transience. Like historic artists, my work visually preserves and documents contemporary societal and political concerns for future generations. The variety of objects in my work creates an ambiguity that is comprehensible with an iconological insight into the period in which it was created. My work this year has been heavily influenced by the coronavirus pandemic and its subsequent impact on society. I have particularly focussed on the 'Free school meal parcels' that have been issued to families that have faced financial hardship due to lockdown. This not only highlights social inequality within society, but also the discrepancy of coronavirus experiences within communities. Although the coronavirus has been a global pandemic, our experiences of it have been subjective to geographic, demographic and socio-economic factors. The prevalence of domestic importance during lockdown has impacted my awareness of the artistic value of mundane objects that we often overlook and their significance in our lives. This elevation of the ordinary into subjects of art has been an integral motivation for the work that I have created this year. My work implores audiences to see beyond preconceived objectification and visualise the symbolic potential that items hold.
The school meals parcels are something that I find important to address. Coronavirus has impacted everyone in society, with more families reliant on the government for necessities such as food. This addresses ideas of social inequality and the social and economic impact of lockdown. According to the government, each food parcel is to feed a child for a week and supposedly provides £30 worth of food. This is not the case, with the value of food in the parcel costing less than £10 and the limited items not able to sustain a child for a week. The subtle writing on the yoghurt lid and tin of beans are important details of my painting, as it shows the deliberate splitting of items and rationing of government funding for free school meals.
I have created a series of individual studies from the free school meal parcel. This is a series of 8 canvases measuring 10x10 inches to be shown along side my large scale ‘Free school meal parcel’ painting. The items I have painted are true to life scale which increases the aesthetic and compositional similarity to seventeenth century Dutch still life painters, who use true to life scale to diminish the barrier between fictive and personal space.
The understanding of these paintings are dependent on the iconological comprehension of current affairs. Only when the complete series of paintings are together does the intended meaning of the work become holistic.
This piece explores the idea of separation from a significant other during the lockdown period. Through depicting mundane objects, such as a toothbrush, I am exploring the feeling of separation and loss we are confronted with in day-to-day activities. This shows how lockdown has impacted me and how seeing two toothbrushes in the bathroom can bring about a wave of sadness and emphasises feelings of isolation.
The shape and texture of cauliflower reminded me of the texture of bronchiole, found in the lungs- one of the major organs affected by Covid-19. Through adding food colouring and water I emphasized the shape and texture of the cauliflower while also making it look more realistic to lungs. This idea of changing the context of an object to alter its narrative is something that I find interesting. This work explores the idea of scientific, medical preservation with domestic materiality. The isolation of the jar further highlights the somber period we are going through.
This piece highlights the impact that Covid has had for people during the holidays with many people not being able to return home or visit family for Christmas. This also explores the duration of the pandemic and its shift through the seasons.
My grandad passed away at the beginning of the pandemic, and the grief of this has heavily influenced my lockdown period. This photograph was taken in Wick, where my grandad grew up. When regulations permitted, my family took my grandad’s ashes back to his home-town. This to me felt like a pilgrimage, my family and I returning to an important part of our history to take home an important man. This drawing brought about lots of emotion in the creation, remembering my grandad and the bitter—sweet memory of taking him home.
Thank you to my wonderful family for always supporting and encouraging me - I couldn't have done this without you.
Thank you to the tutors at ECA for inspiring me and being so kind and enthusiastic.
And thank you to the amazing ECA students for making this a time that i'll treasure forever.