Art : Research

Via Dolorosa (The Street Of Sorrows)

Begun 1991, resumed 2008

I initially began investigating the family history on my mother's side via a series of video recordings made with her in 1991, which I presented unedited as a major part of my degree show. However, the intention was to develop the stories as the potential basis for a narrative film, possibly with music. I abandoned the project after her death a year later.

However, I have recently been collecting stories - which are quite often remarkably tragic - from my mother's cousin Maria, and intend to continue this. Results are being shared with other members of my family in the UK and Italy, and most recently I interviewed my aunt Anna in Naples and visited the Servizi Demografici in Castellammare di Stabia.

One possible outcome might be an exhibition, perhaps in 2011, of re-imagined scenes from some of these stories: family photographs that could never have been taken. It is likely that this exhibition would also include live performance, perhaps working in collaboration with Neapolitan actors and musicians.

The Stone That Is Not A Stone

A field of study begun in 1990 (and before), resumed 2009

The areas of research for my art school dissertation arose from themes that had emerged within my work, which in turn had origins within my year in the Philosophy Department of Leeds University. I was chiefly interested in metaphysics, and my dissertation discussed notions of the soul within the idealist tradition, from Cartesian dualism via Kant to Hegel's early phenomenology, presented alongside a similarly structured argument concerning free will, discussed in terms of the psychology of fear and sexual conflict.

I am currently enjoying returning to these ideas without the need to shoehorn what I discover into any kind of formal academic structure. My first port of call has been the remarkable Bibliotheca Philosophica Hermetica in Amsterdam (early February 2009), which I first visited twenty years previously. I found myself instantly attracted to alchemy, finding a number of analogous themes and also enjoying the associated imagery. (To view a scrapbook of images I collected, click here.) I also briefly looked into mystical illumination through nature and Jacob Boehme, whose ideas were a significant influence on both Hegel's dialectic of the Spirit and William Blake.

I hope to study alchemical art further at the Ferguson Collection in Glasgow, and centred aspects of my artist's residency at An Tobar around the notion of The Philosopher's Egg.