A place, a debate and a way of life:
In 1980 I arrived on the Suffolk Coast in our barge, Jacoba with my partner Ros Conway. This was a profound change to our way of life and a challenge to me as an artist to which I applied an aesthetic methodology derived from completely different circumstances, the artist ghetto of London’s Docklands.
I already had a well-established practice, working with photography and its dynamic relationship with subject matter in such a way that necessitated the development of my own idiosyncratic apparatus and technical procedures. However, over the intervening years context has become more insistent. Now I am much more preoccupied by the increasing volatility of our coastal and estuarine systems, their wellbeing and management. I find that this throws into question the appropriateness of a straightforward pictorial approach and is an invitation to immerse myself in a more nebulous debate where the cultural implications of environmental change are fundamental.
The challenge is to reposition myself in the face of new imperatives, which may not be answered simplistically by creating artworks to flag up issues; artist as communicator frequently makes indifferent art and fails to communicate. My instinct is to be wary of standard solutions and I have grave doubts over the efficacy of orthodox mechanisms for dissemination, believing it essential to seek ways in which art and myself as an artist can be acknowledged as a vital participant in this discussion. My starting point is to remind myself that insights, strategies and an ability to reflect in a concrete way are hard-won skills that are understood as a part of any artist’s armoury, as is curiosity and an unwillingness to be doctrinaire.
To be realistic, I understand that there are as many strategies as there are individuals seeking them; working in an environment where for every discipline there is another set of priorities, has meant that mine has become a hybrid operation that might be discursive, pictorial, analytical or totally submerged within societal duties.
This is by no means a unique position. Mine happens to be one where, to avoid the generic and obvious, I have embedded myself in a community and its particular concerns, which in turn can threaten to make an irrelevancy of what I can bring to the feast.
I am using this exhibition as an opportunity to indicate where I am coming from and what I am exploring, in the hope that each will to some degree inform the other.