My new work at first sight might look a departure, but it continues and revives themes from several exhibitions. I might call them ‘Headscapes’: paintings and sculptures that suggest an internal landscape of the mind. The idea that a face is a façade behind which we keep secrets, a kind of building only really accessible to the occupant.
“The eye is the window of the soul, the mouth the door. The intellect, the will, are seen in the eye; the emotions, sensibilities, and affections, in the mouth. The animals look for man’s intentions right into his eyes. Even a rat, when you hunt him and bring him to bay, looks you in the eye.”
Hiram Powers, American sculptor (1805 – 1873)
A habitation with windows and passages that connect to the world but from which we never really escape or entertain visitors. Our interior world as architecture we inhabit and look out from, Psyche sits contemplating the world, like a pineal doll in a dolls house. It might house many rooms, of memories, imagined futures and fears. It’s a box of secrets, a container of narratives, like a cabinet of curiosities. Ruined there might be a kind of archaeology of mental breakdown or accretions and acquisitions indicating a personalised living space. I think art – or creativity to put it more broadly – is the only way we can make the world within visible.
“And pictures in our eyes to get
Was all our propagation.”
The Ecstacy, John Donne
The sculpted heads are modelled first, larger than life sized and approximately based on myself, in clay then professionally cast in resin and then customised by me. They are hollow and surround a view, scene or tablo that is viewable like a peepshow. I don’t really see them as self-portraits but more like frames. In some ancient Egyptian tombs statues of the deceased were provided with ‘reserve heads’; their purpose is mysterious. Mine are anything from records of a state of mind, of mental health or the lack of it, a kind of camera obscurer, bringing an image from outside inside.
“When you look into eyes, forget about romance, creation, and the windows into the soul. With their molecules, genes, and tissues derived from microbes, jellyfish, worms, and flies, you see an entire menagerie.”
Neil Shubin, Your Inner Fish: A Journey Into the 3.5-Billion-Year History of the Human Body