The further I get into the journey of developing my art, the more I realize that I have three overarching elements which materialize in any individual work, or (more likely in my case) bodies of work that I attempt:
When you consider the first two, on the face of it they seem to be completely at odds with third. How can I possibly be so obsessed with still life and yet still contend with the creation of narratives and the push for abstraction of reality? Aren’t these the antitheses of still life? Especially when you consider that the book on still life called Looking at the Overlooked by Norman Bryson that I’m reading at the moment maintains:
“While history painting is constructed around narrative, still life is the world minus its narratives, or better, the world minus its capacity for generating narrative interest.”
So I started thinking about what it was I thought I was doing in still lifes, and why I was so interested them, and I realized that to me objects are narratives in and of themselves. They are the artefacts of ours’, and other’s lives. They can be the artefacts of the world’s story. And when I started thinking about still life in terms of how much I was drawn to the look, the feel, the history of each object, suddenly, out of the blue, I was pulled back into my old life. Still life is just like a diorama, or a miniature exhibition. To find my answers, and work out the right questions, I was heading back to the research I had undertaken in Museum Studies. It was all about heritage and it’s interpretation. Yay.
The sad fact is, though, when I went back through my readings, I had been so focused on the interpretation and education of science museums (my interest at the time) I had kept precious little information about objects and their semiotics. Bugger. So here I am, almost starting from scratch. Which is interesting, because suddenly I am viewing things differently, with all the years of experience, the loss of my writing, the gaining of photography and art, and the debilitation of depression.
When I originally read Eilean Hooper-Greenhill Museums and the Interpretation of Visual Culture , for my very first ever Master’s tutorial presentation, I wasn’t that impressed. How times change! For in her works, I am starting to grasp the theories that are affecting my art, and which I convey (or try to) in my still lifes. Within a museum context Hooper-Greenhill has written how objects are susceptible to being placed in, and manipulated by different groupings and displays:
“The choice of objects collected, their placing in groups or sets, and their physical juxtaposition construct conceptual narratives and present visual pictures.”
Constructing conceptual narratives and presenting visual pictures? Isn’t that exactly what I want to do in my art?
Soooo… The naming of my new series – who’s development I will document in this blog – is to be: A Narrative of Things.
A not The… There was much internal debating about that. I love to be definitive. It is my nature. But it is not the nature of things, that much I know already (and which I hope to debate more in future posts). This is just one story – or, more accurately, compilation of stories – for all of these objects, it isn’t the only one, and it never can be.