The Last Free Train stops,
Time to buy a lottery ticket,
My friend - you never know,
This could be your lucky day.
Everything is working out.
The Cuckoo is a cunning creature with its instinct for convenience. Sniffs out strategies for survival just as a human.
This piece of work has attached the legitimate paintwork peeled from the walls of installations; some trompe l’oeil dado rail pieced together and glued after life happened in a space and connects the scale of its original locale within whatever room the collage is now placed. A measuring tape has been nailed into the picture. Trying to frame time is the basis of human consciousness, or storytelling. All we seem to do is try to frame time, and the majority hope not to waste it. One night in a stoned rage, I spontaneously tore off the hardboard roof of a doll’s house which had been pinned down, as if a fly had landed on my hand and I was swiping it away in irritation. Inside the once hermetic roof this embossed double-ended red pencil lay central like a two-fold time bomb from the craftsman. A vibration of intentions reached me in elevation. The paper plaque relays some ambiguous directive, like an Ancient Sibyl giving heady remarks to a general in a foreign land, or a fortune cookie. It is one element of Cuckoo Song (No.27) which hopefully guides the audience towards faith in the Unknown, or into unknown faith. A found photograph evokes a funfair on the upper left I picked up in Camden market from a shopkeeper who once shared his lunch with me. It was creamy pasta and tomatoes. He told me he was on a diet, could barely fit inside his junk shop, neither could his breath - it was so thick and riddled with lard. Last time I visited him he told me he used my handmade Christmas card as a coaster, gave me a dice made of ‘human bone’ and stared at my tits throughout the conversation.
The small gouache fresco in the upper third of the atrium was made in 2019 from memories that are like a wild garden at the back of a brothel where thorns prick at the softest parts. I seek magnetic situations where I cannot say no, but neither can I say yes. In the painting I’m half-chicken. Gazing on is an audience contained against their will that feels tired, and wishes they could turn away but hands force their heads to keep still. It is a terrible state of affairs because allure is winning over will power; animal instinct drives the scene like a Cuckoo from another bird's nest free from responsibility to its spawn. The characters are in a fixed game and still gamble away their energy between cataclysms. This is why the matchsticks are set in resin, burnt on one side and not used on the other: there is always time to strike new flames in a living history. It is this urgency I wish to convey, and as the piece was completed, the world seemed trapped in a domestic freeze frame because of the Pandemic. Fluid resolution taunts those that resist change. One picture takes a lot of self worth and faith. It is the object of time. The faith in the object. The temporary collection of a self in acceptance of a tsunami carrying wood, paint, labels, the end of my dad's leather belt, a stain which marks a grave situation, a blob of black ink which is being eclipsed by the sun.
Holocaust deniers may live opposite. My iPhone was probably made in Xinjiang in a Uyghur ‘re education’ camp. Mezuzah on my front door. I’ve used floorboards from my family home where we shuffle as delicately as possible into the next economic depression. Torrential empathy flows through me for Anne Frank who was called by an urge to write down some human detail amongst desperate, recurring chaos. Gratitude for the people who fed her paper secretly for 2 years hidden in an annexe with more than just her family; she was with her family’s ghosts, tormented and immersed in the monstrous spirit of fascism. Behind a sliding bookcase concealed entrance, blank paper was more than a domestic substance. It wasn’t money which kept the Frank family contained and alive. It was the currency of courage by those who died for meaning greater than suffering. This individual selflessness is enough to be free from attachment of how an artwork looks. Selflessness is not decorative and neither are human relationships with the land. Stories of selflessness engage my soul in ways that can activate splinters of space to come together on one plane.
In the centre of No.27 is Rebecca. She evokes a girl who I was at school with — another girl, another parallel formation. I found the photograph in Brooklyn and now it’s printed on transparent plastic. Underneath I want the viewer to notice the pipe at the base of her neck. This is her windpipe where human sounds are drained and reverberate namelessly. Where a well of pain connects the inside and outside in a mass of blue powder. I’m interested in work which survives to define a hidden history and powerfully strides past thousands of conspiracy artists, expensive artists, popular artists, promo artists.
Fellini’s Casanova has a scene where a Cuckoo clock rings to indicate it’s time for Casanova to perform sex in front of peep holes, in a sort of circular curtained room. The Cuckoo theme has also been noted for the Medieval tune which was the first song sung in a round to be recorded. This mode of singing creates an echo through a chorus and this aural aesthetic resurrects the Ancient Greek mythology of the Mountain Nymph Echo whose plight is that of rejection by the vein youth Narcissus and she vanishes into nothing but a verbal imitation — perhaps the basis of group mentality. Sumer Is Incumen In was sung at the 1972 Olympic Games, and also used for the ending scene of Peter Schaffer’s The Wickerman which I would like to focus on briefly. The Wickerman nearly hurtled into oblivion after its initial release but gained popularity in the nineties/2000’s after interest piqued in Paul Giovanni’s soundtrack. Physical tape had to be rediscovered and reconditioned to be playable. This relates to my core interest in splintered spaces. Although its creator never saw recognition, the essence of his work was channelled by those in another era, open to listen during a very specific point in the human journey. Cerebrality offers the soul points of reference within its fleshy container and physical objects are an extension of the body able to preserve an aspect of the free soul.
The Last Free Train (No.27) came together during the Lockdown of 2020. It has actively taken near to 5 years to complete and it’s unlikely to leave the place it was created although that might be nice. I’ve used many of its parts for live exhibitions so I suppose it is now an illustration of those exhibitions and a culmination of source ideas and records. Sticking down the elements of No.27 was a process of insinuations. I could not read the answers anywhere, nor force a finality. I did not make an emulation of another thing. At the very least I emulated a memory I cannot consciously explore. Something meaningful inside me, and there I feel around in the dark. Art is perhaps the process of seeing yourself blindly and using your hands to accept blindness and find a way through tunnelled vision. I use my hands to describe the shape of my contents. I construct another self (an artwork) through emulating a fleeting, malleable thought — a parallel world in some way — a life. Something dead in there. It is a reanimation at No.27.