So, we're past the half way mark of the year. It has been a hugely traumatic one for many. I have just kept my focus on my work, and tried as much as possible to get further along with my "Stikman" works. Earlier this month, I was struck down by a badly swollen left foot, which turned out to be a combination of fluid retention, and a bad gout attack. I've spent this last three weeks with my foot raised up, drinking lots of fluids and reading. About a week or so ago, I decided that I would take the stikman series in a new direction. I had been looking at images of ancient petraglyphs, and primitive art. Not only from here in the UK, but also from other areas of the world. Primitive art has always been a fascinating subject for me. In fact, I don't really like to call ancient or tribal art primitive, as it can be quite a complex thing. It often had purposes completely different to how we in the "enlightened" west have used art over the last few hundred years. Realism, in terms of accurate representation of the forms of, for example, the human figure and animals, does not seem to be a high priority of these ancient artists, in much of this work. There is often a lot more going on, in terms of "style", representation or depiction. This is something we as modern viewers will never fully understand. It may come as a surprise to some, that I am fascinated with paganism. Not only the various forms of modern pagan spirituality practiced here in the UK, but also the tantalising glimpses of historical paganism as seen through ancient writers, and the wonderfully enigmatic historical sites such as West Kennet Long Barrow, the Rollright Stones, Silbury Hill, Avebury to mention a few of the famous ones. I felt, that as it has been an important subject for me, I would now bring it into the imagery of my Stikman works. I had briefly touched on this in some earlier Hidden Monster works, such as "Monster in Spirit", and the more abstract work "Triad" created last year, and exhibited at Himley Hall near Dudley this year.
(Left)"Triad" 2019. Acrylic on canvas.
Groups of three, or triads, are hugely important in druidism. The famous legendary mystical Bard of Wales, Taliesin, famously changed three times into different animals of land, sea and air to evade the wrath of the Goddess Ceriddwen, before she consumed him as a grain of wheat, he then grew as a baby inside her, to be reborn as the mystical bard. Triads are often depicted as Triskele's, or three spirals interlinked. Modern Druids often use the symbol of the Awen, the three rays of light, representing three aspects of deity, mind body and spirit, and also the points at which the sun rises on the equinoxes and solstices - the triads of the sun.
So, I have tentatively and fleetingly touched on this subject in this body of work. I shall now bring it forward in its various forms to take a special place. For me creativity is being like a magpie, picking through the tastiest choice bits, and keeping or storing them. Sometimes you go back to things, to see if you can re-use them. This is no different to the way I work, and I may return to revisit ways of working, and the use of certain elements. Prior to my recent ill health problem, I was taking Stikman into the realms of graffiti and street art. He became "MiStik", a sort of angry version of the Stikman. Yesterday I completed the last of those works called "Window pain". Very much a scream from the alienated, outcast hidden realms of society, its a cry for recognition in painted form on a wood panel, with lots of lettering on it. This way of working, I may return to, or fuse it together with the primitive aspect I'll be working with.
I have also been awarded a bursary from the MAIA arts organisation, to enable me to buy materials to extend my work into three dimensions. This will give me the proceeds to buy in plaster, wood, resin and other materials to create some sculptures and reliefs. I'm hugely grateful to MAIA for this. Also a huge thanks to A-N Artists organisation for the funding to enable me to devote the time to create this work. Without this funding, I could not carry on producing work that deals with a subject that is not represented that often in the artworld.
I would also like to mention, that a fabulous friend of mine passed away yesterday. Alan Harvey was a well known living historian specialising in the Medieval and Tudor periods. I spent many a happy hour shooting arrows with him in displays at Warwick Castle and Harvington Hall many years ago. He was also a very hardworking member of Dudley Councils exhibitions team. It was through Alan, that I got to exhibit my recent solo exhibition at Himley Hall near Dudley. A very creative and thoroughly pleasant guy, Alan will be missed by many people. My thoughts are with Pam and his family at this sad time.