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Statement 2019 (UK) (2019)

Porcelain, Utz concluded, was the antidote to decay.
– quote from ‘Utz’ by Bruce Chatwin, (1988)

Whilst the now ubiquitous digital image glows on screens, the printed photograph – the primary object which has chronicled our existence – fades from sight. Memory is integral to my work, and the abrupt disappearance of such a familiar and physical object is a theme I have focused on. What have we so readily waved goodbye to? To examine this question, I imagine how the printed photograph might be viewed in the distant future – as a thin receipt, a fossil, a half-truth, what remains of a spellbinding glimpse of the past. Printed photographs are instants of the movement of light fossilised in paper. Like memories, they risk disappearing altogether. In this digital era, all we have now is the ephemeral fusion of pixels forming intangible glowing proofs of past and present moments.

Lead, felt, graphite, marble, and porcelain are all organic materials that I employ in my paintings, drawings and installations. Porcelain, a composition of ancient minerals drawn from deep within the earth, enables me to reimagine printed photographs as both images and objects simultaneously. The fired result hovers somewhere between two-dimensional painting and three-dimensional sculpture. These three-dimensional paintings, interpretations of photographs on fired porcelain, resemble printed photographs which have metamorphosed into another state of being; fossils or ‘phossils’ as I call them – past moments captured and petrified into porcelain by extreme heat, its alchemic partner.

Memory does decay, inevitably so. A photograph is a fragile token for this loss, allowing people to revisit their past as fragments of personal history stored on paper. With the digital era pushing analogue photography to the margins, the record of our individual and collective pasts is shifting. A significant chapter of our pre-digital history will be left to fade. These paintings,
these ‘phossils’ with their buckled, twisted forms and suggestive imagery, encourage memory and imagination to collide, offering an enduring alternative antidote – porcelain.

I present my work on porcelain as installations, often supported by paintings and drawings. These installations incorporate bespoke soundscapes and make use of a variety of material supports, including porcelains submerged in water, suspended on mobiles, placed on found objects or furniture. In 2018, I was invited to the Susak Expo, an international art biennale in Croatia, to perform my work ‘Susak Sentinels’. This performance involved creating 12 paintings, interpetations of photographs of fire, and then diving into the Adriatic Sea to sink each of these twelve ‘phossils’ to the sea floor around the island of Susak.
They should still be there, somewhere.

CB 2019