From the very first time I came across the abstract and modernist work of Henry Moore I became hooked by the simple beauty and layered aspects of meaning within this wonderful sculptors pieces. It was only later that I found others endeavours such as Barbara Hepworth and Naum Gabo also captured my imagination and somehow I felt links to these artists greater than the works themselves a feeling of mutuality, of loss, of anguish but also of hope.
After serving six years in the Parachute Regiment of the French Foreign Legion as a Paramedic and having served seven tours of duty there I was left injured both physically and mentally. Over the subsequent twenty years I have been fighting nightmares and deep dark depression which are the hallmarks of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
I am convinced in a way that all three of the above artists also suffered from this mental illness which was born of their having witnessed the atrocities of the two world wars. The work of all three artists shows how they as I use art (for me clay) to overcome these issues and express these emotions in their respective forms.
The use of string in the work of each of these artists endeavours has been an inspiration to me and informs my work in every way. Capturing the tension which I strive to convey in each form string brings clarity to each piece in a way which is difficult to achieve in any other material. The tethering of each piece not only attaches one sculpture to the other but defines each pieces positioning within its surroundings and quantifies its relationship with other pieces in this space. String used in this way becomes a living thing, synapses-like filaments, mycelium which connect all things usually hidden these are denuded exposing their connectivity for all to behold.
I have named this final installation “Connectivity”, The psychological effect of PTSD on social groups… These pieces examine four groups of people and the effects of trauma on their relationships. There are adult male and female forms, adolescent male and female forms and also a baby within these groups. The mottled surface of each form is mottled having been fired using the “Naked Raku” process, this is symbolic of the corporal manifestation of illness on the surface of each individual which is invisible to the naked eye.
The red threads join each piece around holes in the forms which are representational of entry and exit wounds. The positioning of each piece was also important to me and height and depth was used to show the varying levels of control which each piece had over the other. Finally the gold “Soul-Wells” which are mounted at the top of each vessel are symbolic of the human spirit, the untarnished receptacle of each ones soul. Bright and clear showing hope amongst all the surrounding despair. This project was deeply meaningful to me and the process of composition and installation especially the threading of the pieces was emotionally and psychologically draining, taking me right to the edge of the abyss. Now installed I can feel the cathartic values of my endeavour far more and in the light of day my nightmares are at bay for now.