People often say that a photo is worth a thousand words and I am a strong believer in this. Photos tell stories, document fond memories and capture funny moments. Personal photos are the stills to your life. Documentary photos allow us visual access to the past; whether it is a glimpse into the harrowing life of trench warfare, the horrific effects of Napalm in Vietnam, or more light-hearted occasions such as Royal Weddings. It’s incredible to think that we can see a visual of someone who existed hundreds of years ago, that we can put a face to the name of ancient geniuses. ‘Vinyl Icons: Persian Pop and Turkish Psychedelia’ demonstrates the importance of the photograph. Within the exhibition this takes on a variety of forms, such as a photographic collage of family photos as above.
It also took the form of more explicit photographs, such as this found postcard of an Iranian pop star. As I said before, a picture is worth a thousand words and what interests me most about this fact is that different people will all take different things from what they see. Such as with the above photo; some people will find it crude, others will find it sexy, generally people will find it cheeky and naughty. Personally I like it, I think it’s got a wacky side to it and a sense of pride within the woman as she commands her body. I also find the setting incredibly interesting and the material of her net leotard provides an interesting contrast against the plush velvet of the chair. Having written extensively about ‘Vinyl Icons: Persian Pop and Turkish Psychedelia’, I have realised that as a whole it is of course a flourishing exhibition. Yet it’s only really when you break it down and truly examine the details that you realise just how effective and important every single element is.
It’s amazing when you stop and think about the body; when you register the fact all of your movements are controlled by tiny little messages sent along your nerves and synapses, allowing you to move instinctively without thinking. Transmitting instructions that allow your body to function. These days we are so preoccupied with image, diet, building artificial muscle, losing weight, gaining weight that we forget to think about our core components; the things that actually matter. How our muscles stretch as we bend our arms, how the skin moves with your joints, how our bones click and slot into place as we sit down, how we blink to keep the dust out, how we breathe as our pulse rate changes. All of these small little details are so crucial to everyday life, yet how often do we stop and think about them? How often do we take it all for granted? How often do we truly contemplate the wonders that are our bodies?
I have very bad knees, so I am constantly aware of the clicks and the shoots of pain. Yet in a weird way I am grateful to this pain. It forces me to slow down to reduce impact on the kneecap, or stop shin splints. Often I can feel my knee caps clicking and sliding over each other like a machine. I am so aware of these faults in my body that I can’t help become aware of everything else. This is why I love the gym so much, as I enter that space it allows me to open up a direct dialogue with my body. In the gym my actions are entirely dictated by the balance of mind and body; how far can I push certain muscles? How long can I do certain weights? How long should I spend stretching? It is almost as if I go deeper into myself in these moments as the mind dissolves and becomes one with the body.
Balance and endurance are core components of my workouts. There’s the will to stop verses the will to continue. As well as being good for fitness and strength, I believe the gym is also very good for the mind. Going on a regular basis takes commitment; continuing on a machine for a certain amount of time takes willpower. It is all a discipline in which the mind and body are intrinsically wrapped up in each other. I often find it difficult to get this across to people, as everyone has their own reasons for gyming, or some people I know don’t gym at all. Investigating my feelings further in my artwork is helping me to better articulate myself. I feel these images and their poses are highly effective in highlighting a lot of how I feel about exercise and its necessity for me in daily life.
I think it is safe to say my work has changed a lot since my first year at Northumbria University in Newcastle. To be honest I would be very worried if it hadn’t as art is all about growth and development and frankly you’re wasting your time if you’re a tape recorder stuck on repeat. That’s not to say you can’t go back to things – draw them out and redevelop them. That often results in some of the most successful art! However, there are some things I will not be going back to again and first year has a lot of that kind of stuff. My way of thinking about art has changed a lot over the time I have been at University. I read more then I’ve ever read about art in my life. I’ve learnt about all sorts of different artists, been introduced to mediums I would never have registered as art forms before and learnt about so many interesting historical movements. My way of thinking has been transformed and it is healthy. It shows I have grown and evolved alongside my art which is a very exciting prospect. Also sometimes a very overwhelming one. Sometimes your creative energy can feel like too much and the only thing you can do to release it is get it down on paper!
I think out of all the work I did in first year these sketches are my favourite. They are portraits of terrorists and I wanted to create a beautiful image of a very ugly person. The delicate outlines of these faces contrasts with the brutality these men have committed. I think my favourite element is the colours. They are vibrant and they are intense. Yet when they are dense they solidify and loose this vibrancy. And I like that, the idea that something can be lost when there is an excess of it.
Following my Kruger-inspired leg graffiti, using myself and my body in my art became a lot more of a frequent occurrence to the point that now I don’t know how I would make art without it! Something that has always fascinated me is make-up. Why do we wear it? Because we look shit without it? Apparently so. But why do we think that? Depressingly it’s because that’s what society has led us to believe. And I am a hypocrite when I say all this because I wear make-up on a daily basis and I love the transformation my eyes undergo between pre and post-make-up. I bought face paint one day wanting to exaggerate the transformation process that make-up could create. Here are some of the results:
I created nine looks in one day. BAD IDEA. My face was so unbelievably raw by the end of it from repeated removal and reapplication. But it was a very interesting process. Obviously these faces are terribly exaggerated in comparison to what make-up does to us, but it really highlights the fact that every time we put something on our face, we are putting on a mask.