Tensions between the materials.
Tension in the knitting.
Tensions in masculinity.
Reflecting on my exhibition ‘Tensions’ at Yorkshire Sculpture Park, I began thinking about what is important within my practice. What is it I want to achieve with my work?
The weather on the weekend of the exhibition was warm and sunny, and so it brought a lot of visitors to the park. People from all different walks of life. It was interesting talking to people who did not have an art background but could relate to certain facets of the work. Maybe they come from a family of steelworkers. Or whether they related to my perceptions and thoughts on masculinity in a working-class background.
What has become apparent is that I am interested in the response people have to the work, and the conversations that can arise from it. I’ve realised that some people might not fully understand the work upon first glance, but have engaged within the conversation and maybe shared their own interpretations. Their interpretation doesn’t even have to be completely aligned with my own personal interpretation. We all experience the work differently. We all experience the world differently.
Art starts conversations, and as an artist, all I could hope for is for the conversation to continue. And so, to summarise on the importance of the viewer’s response to the work, I would like to end with a piece of poetry written by a lady called Moriel Gidney who sent this to me after viewing my work at Yorkshire Sculpture Park.
I entered the boatshed
Looked for paintings
And saw breeze blocks
These are the focus
This is the art.
Pink, harshly constricted by leather strap
Block of stone held up against gravity
By woven strands of denim
A block adorned by woven denim
And suddenly my thinking was awoken
My stereotypical thinking challenged
Poetry (maybe) borne into being
Woven into words
Was the pink, women being constricted by men?
Or feminine aspects of man
Strangled by macho pressure ?
Was the block of concrete, reality,
Held in place by workplace partnerships?
The artist’s role is to awaken and challenge