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One my investigations of the To the Light show is to examine in a critical way how one can work and understand destructive acts creatively. In the sense of literally taking imagery of the riots and then to paint them was a way of resolving the irrationality of violence acts. As I cycled through Peckham during the time of the riots in 2011 and then was trapped where I lived between mass acts of chaos and violence as gangs met outside my house, I sensed palpable danger and felt incredibly vulnerable- I could not leave home for a few days- it was not safe. I watched precious buildings attacked and set alight, destroyed. For me buildings are always about humanity and the human experience, a portrayal of our civilisation and so it was heart rending to see. I, and society/psychologists/sociologists/ politicians/ police could not rationalise what I was seeing or hearing. It echoed with me very personally and intuitively about violence I had seen, felt and absorbed, none of which made any sense to me, to harm others, to destroy.

As one make works about a space, whatever it might be, one can through the act of making find a peace in situations, place value on something- in my context- buildings that have fallen into disuse or have been destroyed. I grew up in social housing with the accompanying poverty and dystopia and I have painted social housing for some years. In some ways now as I reflect back ( I hadn’t realised the autobiographical angle at the time ) to absorb my own experiences, to transform spaces as well as a wider consideration of why buildings were made, the ideals set against the reality of what they often became; barren and broken spaces. When I used to walk around all this social housing taking photos for my artwork I was haunted by my own memories as well as the many unknown experiences of others, but imagining all the conflict, strive and aspirations held in these spaces. Buildings, for me hum with life, with experience joy and pain.

No matter what, in all of these places, people led out their lives, these places must have been enlivened with love, celebrations as well as by the darker more painful sides of lives. I resonate with them.

The very act of making works means you place a value on something- in my case a space. To make these works, I repaired these building somehow, transformed them into something valuable and the end results were seen as Tom Jeffeys put ‘elegiac, quiet and commemorative. ’

I have always had a positive ideology about possibilities about reparation; through creativity one can find a way through difficulties. If it were not for my work I do not know what I might have become. Even back in school, when I picked up a paintbrush I could find a peace, an inner sanctum as well as observing the wider critical questions of my practice. So the work is personal but yet exists on its own without knowing any of the personal.

I do believe creativity is an important tool to oppose destruction; there is for me a bigger philosophical attitude in making works- that this exhibition To the Light is about the possible potentiality to transform our situations. To find somehow a place where we can happily exist, despite dislocation and disconnections, to accept all that you cannot change but to change what you can. One can turn a situation into a more empowered one, where you have a more positive position. You could make rocks instead of break rocks (a Peter Liversidge quote). You could put buildings back together. Sometimes the perspective that has to be taken about these situations is that perhaps they should be taken as a break through not just a break down and that with the breakthrough we can find constructive ways to move forward.

I have in my own way quietly and creatively worked through the unknowns and all I have cited above. I have played with possibilities of space and rejoiced in all the potentials that lie within it and within that conversation of possibilities of space, I and my work have grown, in unexpected joyous works…more to come.


Twitter: @Tothelighshow