Life isn’t ever simple and the past 3 months are a perfect example. I started a new job, got to grips with said job and then began to fix up a few areas of Messy Miscreation before moving forward.
Now in March of 2018 I have finally finished and collected up the work I created at a residency I had at The Horsfall in November, 2017. It was an important project to me as I was collaborating with other autistic adults online to give me “statements” that they had worn as a badge for years to come. For example, I was called pedantic during my autism diagnosis and I still hold that dear to myself to bring me down.
I used an online site that allowed me to collect over 70 statements anomalously to incorporate into a series of my monster paintings. The idea was to have these creatures wear these statements that were eating away at so many individuals all around the world. My aim was to highlight that the autistic community often makes themselves the bad guy in theses situations and show how powerful just a single statement can be and the stain it leaves behind on a person.
My original plan was to begin this project in September 2017 but the opportunity at the Horsfall was a considerably better way to get the project on display rather than it sitting on a website and impacting nobody. The plans were arranged and I had the space of the beautiful building for a total of three weeks, two for producing the work and the final week for an exhibition sharing a combination of the new work and a collection of paintings made over Messy Miscreation’s lifespan.
The idea of this residency was to have a connection to either The Horfall’s philosophy or the work of 42nd Street next door who help young individuals with any mental health issues they may have. As my work linked with the theme of mental health I thought this would be a great opportunity for both myself and the brilliant people who work at 42nd Street.
During my stay I got to know so many of the staff and I was blown away with their passion and enthusiasm for the work they do. These young people were not being talked down to, but were being treated as equals and respected as they should be. I spent only a few hours in their lobby to see the wonderful attitude and hard work they put into keeping the place running and it made me realise the importance that the Horsfall has to the staff and the young people.
This drove me to produce 10 paintings as a response to the statements I received in just two weeks while having the space to talk openly to public about my artwork and its significance to me. 2 of the paintings were donated to The Horsfall as a thank you for the sheer effort and kindness they showed me to make it all possible.
Below are the eight remaining paintings that I created during those two weeks. Each one has roughly 7 statements built into their form with either a combination of print and freehand writing. These monsters now wear the statements I had received to create something unique to any of my previous paintings.
The exhibition was open to the public for a week and included an opening night which gave visitors the chance for a guided tour around the space. In the three weeks I spent in the Horsfall I became fond of the space I adored how much work fit into it.
The focus of this exhibition was to provide a stage for this project. I wanted my artwork to be a vessel for a conversation not always heard from the Autistic community. We can often be our own worst enemy and we hold ourselves back. We hold back because we have learnt that we are not capable of living the same lives as those without autism. Once shamed for a behaviour out of your control you begin to concentrate on it and pin down that habit. This takes up incredible amounts of mental energy and in turn drains us unnecessarily. These statements can be toxic for our mental health and I wanted to highlight the impact they can have and how that can only grow and manifest itself into something much worse.
The Horsfall gave me a platform to share this project and also share my thoughts with the public. I loved the space, I loved the people and most of all I loved being able to an artist full time. I spent a good three weeks honing my social skills and being able to verbalise how important this all was for me. This post has been incredibly delayed in being written because life enjoys being complex and time has flown away with me. Despite this I still felt it was important to still share this experience no matter how delayed it may be.
There is a video out there “somewhere” of the round table event hosted by the Horsfall with myself and fellow artist Jon Adams at the mantle of discussing nuerodivergancy within the arts that will hopefully be uncovered in the future. Once I have access to that I shall share it here as planned with this post.
A huge thanks to everyone who made this all possible and the wonderful staff at 42nd Street and a shout out to the hard work they do. A massive and special thanks to Julie who made all of this happen and Jon Adams, who took the time on his birthday to come all the way to Manchester to be part of the round table event.
Until next time,