Dr. Stranglehold and Mr. Pride or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Myself

Vanity is a strange love. I have made several videos of other artists at work but only just made one of myself. There are good reasons for this, of course, primarily that my work is mostly made on-screen and not very interesting to watch. But pride and prejudice come into it too. Many people do not like to be observed at work and I know why. We are afraid that our methods or competence will be judged unfavourably. Also, many people do not like their physical appearance, even if it is demonstrably appealing to others.

One major exception is Jean Marc Calvet whom I met and filmed last year at the Sheffield Doc/Fest.

He is a larger than life character that was happy to be filmed and could not have been more accommodating to me.

My retrospective project requires me to look at myself a lot, and it’s very revealing. I’ve already discovered two major themes in my work that I had never actually acknowledged, but are very apparent with some perspective. More about that soon.

Here are some stills from a timelapse shoot of me at work creating a new piece of art for the 20×20 exhibition at Access Space, Sheffield, UK. It’s hardly a flattering portrayal of an artist at work and I wonder when I got so bald and fat? I don’t feel that scruffy either, although I wouldn’t go out dressed like that. I will go as far as Key News, the convenience shop across the road, just visible through the window.

There will be an edit of the video and it’s quite entertaining to watch. The successful completion of the work is preceded by two complete failures. However, what you won’t see is my frustrated stomping around the flat looking for a craft knife. I must have bought a dozen over the years but I could not find a single one. I look quite methodical and productive in the video as timelapse capture irons out the um-ing and ah-ing and often doesn’t show up the mistakes. Believe me though, I don’t usually work in this way and my methods require some finessing.

The 20×20 show is an annual event at Access Space and opens with a preview on 14th September from 17.30. It attracts 50-plus artists in an open call, and the only restriction is that the work must be 20 inches square. I aways try to do something with a certain technical ambition, and although I’m delighted with my finished work, I am happy to reveal my failures too. Details to follow. Standby by for 20×20: The Disaster Movie

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