As a result of standing up for myself I set a precedent for other local artists but at some cost to my relationships. I am pleased to report that these relationships healed with time.
When you’re having an exhibition of new work and it doesn’t sell – that can be difficult. Again, I would have to talk about relativity. It’s tough if you don’t sell work at an exhibition, especially if you put a lot of time and money into the show. But that pales in significance when compared to being dealt a bad hand when you least expect it.
I am enjoying my role as a mediator between nature and humans, expressing universal truths in my work and inspiring viewers as much as I am able.
I’m passionate about the messages that the work conveys through the use of recycled material and I love without exception, the simple inspiration that it gives to people when they see this kind of work.
It never ceases to amaze me how many ways that we can recycle and it’s a great thing that recycling has become so topical nowadays. I remember when I first started working with the found plastics that I discovered when I was walking the beaches collecting driftwood, to make my furniture. Given the fact that I wanted to use recycled driftwood to make my furniture, it was indicative that I had it in my system to want to reuse objects. It began for me with driftwood, well before it became fashionable to make furniture from this material.
I have often been asked what my definition of success is and whether or not I consider myself successful. The parameters by which I define success are particularly wide. I don’t feel that it’s confined to financial success or necessarily aligned to fame, though it may be the case that someone is financially rewarded for what they do or receive generous accolades along the way.
Artists have varying degrees of success at different points in their lives. These moments when experienced can test you in many ways, which can both increase that achievement or dilute its effect on your career. It depends often on how you respond to the success that comes your way.
Do you respond to success or do you react to success? It is exceptionally easy to undermine anything, but undermining success can be the simplest thing to do. Most people crave for positive achievements and accolades as much as they fear it and it is in both the craving and the fearing of success that the problems germinate and the possibility of undermining your achievements of success begin.
Many galleries I’ve worked with have asked me to create smaller works, or works ‘like the one that sold’ etc. In the meantime I have continued to make whatever has been my whim. I have one of the most varied outputs in style of all the artists I know.
I think this includes aspects of my career as an artist. In my own eyes, and in the eyes of those I have successfully convinced through my relentless media releases and PR campaigns, I am highly successful on most levels. In the meantime life goes on and different things become important in a career; sometimes this can mean total shifts in emphasis and direction.
There are also times where we as artists feel we may have undermined our success by standing in the way of opportunities in some way, or that on reflection we may have preferred to approach one process or another in a vastly different way. Whatever the case, we experience challenges in our art careers for one reason only and that is to learn, develop and grow not only as an artist but also as a person.
You will find through reading this it will become clear why when you walk through that door the first time, whether it be a gallery, an agent or a potential client, plan to walk through that door twelve times. This will develop your character to the point that after you hear a years worth of no’s you will still stay inspired because you have learnt from them by remembering it’s how you end something how it begins.
I have learnt to market myself and I have learnt how to write press releases. I have developed a sound business sense and have made successful investments that have worked well for me. I have also made mistakes and learnt from them. I have realized there are certain secrets in all forms of work including the art business.
That question was this: how am I going to make a living out of my career as an artist?
I’ve been very cautious to use materials in a way that for me is honest. My intention is to make something beautiful out of these objects. My intention is not to be out there waving my finger at people. The message is there. I am wanting to make something beautiful using a difficult medium. Especially with beach plastic, which waves an environmental red flag, because someone had to throw it there or it’s washing ashore.
I believe we are at a point in time where we are about to take a quantum leap in consciousness. It is essential. The way that things are on the planet can’t continue like this and I feel that if each of us begins at home with ourselves with our own transformation we may have a chance of bringing this much-needed sense of oneness to our planet once again.
I bought these plastics back to my studio to sift, sort, and colour-code for my assemblages, sculptures and installations. As I worked with these objects, I became even more fascinated by the way they had been modified and weathered by the ocean and nature’s elements. My challenge as an artist was to take these found objects, which might on first meeting have no apparent dialogue, and to work with them until they spoke and told their story, which included those underlying environmental messages inherent in the use of this kind of medium.
People have expressed to me an awareness that manifests after seeing my found object artwork. When they walk the beach they feel awakened by possibilities.
After more than 10 years of collecting beach found objects and subsequently making art out of them, I’ve naturally come now to a new form of expression, which was brought on significantly as a result of the decrease in litter either washing up or being left behind on our beaches, as well as a result of my purge painting series and exploration.
Many artists are now highlighting environmental concerns in their work, such as climate change. I am always hopeful that art can help shift awareness in a positive direction. I am also hopeful that the viewing public embraces these messages and is moved to act, for I firmly believe that at present we need all the help we can get to address the current ecological needs of our planet.
In many ways because there is much less plastics on the beaches around where I live these days, I have also naturally moved on. I began working with recycled plastic bags, painting seascapes of the beaches I walked so many years collecting rubbish off and lately, working with recycled dead trees.
So in one sense yes, in my case consumption has encouraged artistic expression. I am not the only one, there are many more like me who are making successful comments on today’s consumerist society in various ways and mediums.