How do ‘observations on modern life’ relate to creating an artistic response to modern life?
My last exhibition, which took place in NYC at the start of the year, was very different in that it was attempting to create a new way of seeing things – fundamentally, that storytelling is a uniquely human trait, that we write all our stories with us at the centre, and the realisation it is possible to change the sorts of stories we hear. It was more cosmic in scope, contemplative and curious.
This body of work is very much based on the current conundrums that face our everyday lives from the specific to the general. As a broad approach for this show I either try to point out the truth, highlight the poetic, or find the humor in a range of subjects that affect us all. In an age of social media where anyone can say anything, at any time instantaneously and (for the most part) without consequence, there is a danger in the anonymity and the speed of such transactions.
How being an ‘alien in New York’ (as Sting would say) affects ideas about the world and identity…
It does, in ways that may not be immediately obvious. While, yes, large cities tend to be generally more tolerant places when it comes to understanding cultures and lifestyles that are foreign to your own background and preferences, it was actually in looking back at Northern Ireland from the distance of the other side of an ocean that had the most profound effect on me.
I encountered plenty of people who had no idea that Northern Ireland was a separate country to the Republic of Ireland (it was with an initial degree of shock that I found myself explaining basic Northern Irish history and geography to even English and Irish people) and it was a sadrealisation that outside that small statelet, no one really cared what we were fighting about, or that we were fighting at all, at least not until recently. Those recent decades of political turmoil seemed like such a misuse of energy.