Both art and ethics require us to take a step back from our usual - selfish – standpoint in order to see things from another point of view. Our appreciation of art and our efforts to act ethically both need us to show empathy.
Empathy allows us – as we contemplate a work of art – the chance to escape the confines of our everyday preoccupations and a chance to see ourselves and others in a different light.
Wittgenstein wrote „the work of art is the object seen sub specie aeternitatis; and the good life is the world seen sub specie aeternitatis. This is the connection between art and ethics“.
I hope that when looking at my work people see something of themselves looking back at them – sub specie aeternitatis.
My skin is my largest organ and my largest organ has for many years been defective. I am atopic which means I have issues with my eyes, lungs, allergies and above all my skin. Every day my emotional life plays out on my skin. Some days my skin leaves me in peace; other days it drives me so mad I want to tear it to pieces. Sometimes I do.
My skin’s defences are weak and frequently fail. My skin can be unbearably itchy and dry offering no reliable barrier to water and the outside world. My skin is vulnerable to outside attacks and easily infected.
Washing paint brushes in running water over many years has for example caused the skin on my hands to deteriorate in places. These days it is better to wear gloves when I wash my brushes.
My skin gives clues as to my state of health and my state of mind. It is a window into my soul. I wear my heart not on my sleeve but on my skin.
I am an artist. I paint on my skin.
A rectangular wooden frame is placed upon a similarly sized piece of raw canvas with just enough of the fabric to wrap around the frame.
A hail of staples is fired into the frame until the canvas is as tight as a drumhead, pulled taut in all directions, with all the dignity of Patagonian lamb al asador.
The untreated water-absorbent canvas is then sealed with three coats of acrylic primer to make it more waterproof. After this at least four more coats of white gesso are applied to the canvas, each one need several hours to dry.
The canvas surface is now a chalky white, mapped with lesions of erratic brush strokes, scars of unevenly applied paint, random hairs and like so many pock marks the occasional lumps of dried gesso paint.
The canvas has become my skin: stretched on the rack of memory and ready to bear witness.