In 2012, mixed-media series of work Media Puppets was first shown at ‘Made in Greenwich’ gallery. The work was nominated for Clapham Art Prize’14 and taken to Bath Arts Fringe. In 2015 it showed in Out of the Box at the No Format gallery and at the Story so Far, an exhibition at W3 Gallery.
The work stems from an interest in the way in which the media tells us a tale. The heads of the puppets are blown out of proportion in much the same way. Exaggeration and overdramatizion are in abundance. The ink on day one was as fresh as when it was printed, but with the passage of time it became illegible. Now smudgy black finger stains obscure empty promises and forgotten smear campaigns.
This treatment by the media causes them to grow a bulbous misshapen head. It is indiscreet and difficult to hide. The head develops a crust to protect itself. It is hardened against the words of the media, but also becomes a place for the public to vent their emotion. My puppets attempt to convey the expression that happens to have stuck. Making it known to the public for perpetuity. A mask snapped by the quick finger of the paparazzi, but not representative of that person.
As the work has developed new ways of collaging have been employed. Throughout construction I attempt to be seamless in connecting them. The edge where the image changes is obscured until it re-emerges as a component of drawing, a form, tone or shade. Only subtle differences are noticeable between body parts such as whether skin has hair, veins, tattoos, blemishes or if they are male or female. I like the fact that a body surface of marble can be as smooth and rounded as one of skin. Whether it is cold hard inorganic matter or rippling bands of muscle.
Sometimes the images are anatomically correct others as if a broken bone. I am always trying to play with scale and perspective. I like these to unsettle the viewer but for them at the same time to be reassured by the convincingness of the finish.
My aim is to form new narratives. This process is assisted by grouping subjects together, so that there is more likelihood that I will notice similarities, i.e. religion, ecology, surveillance, politicians or community. Sometimes though it is just the proximity of a Buddha next to a washing machine because there is some slight alignment of colour or form, some recurring pattern common.
Backgrounds that change bring a variety of different contexts to the figure. Giving it the setting of a gym, an Olympic Arena and a museum all at the same time. The overall composition is a strange juxtaposition of images that overlay one another. A new narrative formed by the addition of a flag, a swimming pool or another figure.
Newspaper layouts can often be looked at as if acting on a subliminal level. Through the design of a page we may be confronted with an inappropriate or a complimentary combination of images. With the collages I seek to explore that placement of ill-fitting imagery. In a portrait piece Angela Merkel, a fiery politician and a dappy bottle blond glamour model come together.
The media, it seems, does not spare a thought for the way that they portray people. Whether they are putting them in a positive or negative light, talking them up or belittling them. They lack the sensitivity not to put images that will offend people next to one another on the same page or in a news bulletin. A person that has been accused of something and then is acquitted is still in danger of seeing an article in print that will cause them pain or discomfort. There can also be a lack of respect for the privacy of people involved in a crime.
People are portrayed to suit their own stories, one day it’s a tubby overweight travel cop, the next dignified bobbies on the beat doing their job. Always full of contradictions. Photographers and journalists capture expressions that are sometimes unexpected at others staged.
The work makes a comment about class in society. How classes can be made equal through treatment by media, to them regardless of whether you are a royal or of working class descent everyone is the same. Class boundaries are also reinforced, bringing Prince Charles onto a troubled south London housing estate surely could only exacerbate them. I find it interesting how such opposites of character can exist in one body and seek to portray this through my work.
Different physiological processes that happens when a sinew goes under stresses and strains. During sleep or death how our facial features change or in the process of aging when the elasticity leaves your skin. I am interested in capturing the way that muscles flex and lose their firmness, in the way a scar acts as documentation of a person’s history, giving visual evidence to traumatic events that have been sustained.
It is important that loose skin, wrinkles, eyebrows, corner of smiles, pockmarked skin, hair or laugh lines match up. I find it interesting that you can go from a frown to a smile in one image. From a leer or a sneer to a look of trustworthiness. From a double chin to a twisted chin.