2008-2009 has been the year of missing things and missing people. It has become the
year of philosophy and psychoanalytical theory. The year of loss.
It began with the ghostly black and white portraits of distant friends and loved
ones, my missing people separated by distance and unbridgeable gulfs. Followed by
claustrophobic black portraits with heavy influence from the current work of Franko
B and Mark Alexander.
The physical distance from the individual meant that traditional portrait sitting
could never be obtained. With their permission I collected photographed images of
these people and began to explore them, yet through peer feedback I learned that
the work made people feel uncomfortable. It came as a personal revelation that I
had actually been exploring my own aspects of loss. The ghosted pieces are painted
using my fingertips rather than brushes, the canvas becoming a tactile object of
caress and absent touch. A strange stroking of the work, a step into the spiritual
relationship between black and white, its evocative nature and its power over me.
Slowly the year progressed to missing people and those vanished from society. The
holes they left behind them and Marline Dumas ink bleeding portraits of those with
these small voices in society. Crawling through hundreds of internet photographs
and stories of lost people felt like trespassing in a forbidden place and my discomfort
quickly lead me away from this field. I locked the images I had been working on
away into hand bound pages which do not invite opening and hid them from sight like
Dead roses and empty trains ran concurrently with the missing people as a distraction
from my growing unease, and has been an ongoing collection since. It details nostalgic
loss and the shrines we build to the missing. The romanticism of pain, Elaine Scarry’s
philosophy of pain’s defiance to sharing, and through it reverting to our pre-language
However the leap to book-making had already been made and began to take hold. From
one closed hand-made book to new open ones. The year moved forward with holes and
missing things in different haunting voices, in hand made books using ancient obsolete
binding techniques. A pile of tactile preciously made books which invite picking
up and stroking but are completely empty of any writing or content. One large volume
with many weeks of intricate labour and rare imported Mexican tree paper, violated
with a huge void though its centre rendering it useless as a book. It is Lacan’s
“Das Ding”, The Thing; the huge void within each of us that we can never confront.
On 11th May I shall be attending the joint Tate & British Association of Art Therapists
symposium on ‘Advancing Arts and Mental Heath Conference’ entitled “What is a Gallery
For?” On 3rd June I shall be attending the Freud Museum’s Bracha Ettinger Symposium.
Hopefully I will have the opportunity at these events to discuss some ideas with
leading people in this field. I wish to ask them: