WORDS ABOUT ANDY'S WORK
Description From 'Uncertain Spaces: Kenopsia' Show At Cupola Gallery, Sheffield, 2019.
Born in Bristol in the early 1970's, and growing up in Blackpool in the 1980's Andy came to study painting at Sheffield Hallam in the 1990's and has continued to live in Sheffield since then.
Andy's interest is with the cityscapes and landscapes of Sheffield with a particular focus on the night-time city. Looking at forms, spaces and places that many may consider mundane or marginal the scenes painted show the world he exists within. Some of them are immediately recognisable. Others fall into a unique space of appearing to be depictions of specific places that could exist anywhere, if not everywhere, yet paradoxically existing in a sort of unknown 'other' place too. The paintings become symbols of mystery, about observing an uncanny atmosphere of uncertainty within the spaces of daily life.
Choosing to be called a “realist” painter instead of a “photorealist”, Andy intentionally depicts his cityscapes without diminishing his mark-making by eliminating it with a blended photographic perfection.
From an interview with Sam Walby of Now Then magazine, November 2015. "Uncertain Spaces"
“..we're forever in the state of going in between, but always looking outside of that. You go into town to go to a shop, and almost everything else in between is so familiar, but also so banal and mundane, that it just gets ignored. This project is me engaging with that, trying to come out with investigations of spaces that we don't want to look at, and trying to find something within that.”
A "Sort Of" Declaration / Manifesto for My Work, 2012.
Things are important.
Things? Ephemeral moments, glimpses that catch your gaze. Mundane spaces, moments and actions that hold your attention and seem to freeze time.
I am interested in serendipity - "happy accidents", "mini-sublimes" - and the emotions that come about from noticing them. Familiar examples might be a water droplet dribbling down the side of a glass, a speck of dust in a shaft of sunlight or a magnificent sunset over the brow of a hill.
It is not a case of something being beautiful or filled with huge momentous meaning, sometimes I will respond to something without truthfully knowing why. For some reason, at one moment of time, a thing has importance.
This may suggest photography as being a way to go, but I want to reconstruct the moment thats passed. I want to pay homage to it, actively deconstruct it, then reconstruct it, add myself to the mix as after all I am the person that had the moment and am choosing to portray it. Some of the photos I take, if enlarged, would become seriously uninteresting but by the action of painting, having made an image out of many marks, it gains a vibrancy, a texture, which is substantially different to a photograph even if the initial impression of my work is photographic.
As a painter I am unable to capture these moments immediately and photography can miss them or lose the emotional connection as it records the event. I use my camera as a sketchbook, to test, record and then expand on.
I'm not aiming to glamorise the mundane, but searching to find interest in the things around us that we usually ignore. There are fascinating things, often unobserved around each of us. I'm interested in those things that we miss, that we tend to use 'entertainment' to distract us from. I'm fascinated by the world around me not in an engaging way, but as an observer. I love watching the world go by. I am a voyeur.
An Example From My Own Experience. The Circles Of Oil On The Ground In Sheffield's Endcliffe Park, 1993.
I had been set a project at art college - interpret as you will this phrase "the line is the limitation" and consider 2 points A and B on a map. I saw it as a project of walking, looking and recording from point A to point B in whatever way that I wanted. On that walk I had an experience which I can only call an 'existential epiphany'... somehow a non-religious moment yet an awakening to possibility that was fundamentally outside what I'd known before that point.
I was in Sheffield's Endcliffe Park. In front of me was a huge playing field of green grass surrounded by trees. It was autumn. I'm walking along and looking about me so that I can absorb and record what I see. I looked down to the floor and saw perfect black circles on the luscious healthy green grass. Looking around I saw a long trail made up of many of these inky circles varying in diameters from 5cm to 20cm dotting the green. It was stunning and eerily cool. In the distance a large yellow truck in the process of cutting the grass had some sort of oil leakage and was leaving behind it the trail that I could see.
I looked down and at the moment I did, a large brown leaf (looked like some kind of large sycamore leaf) glided down and landed slap bang perfect in the centre of one of the largest circles of oil directly in front of me at my feet. I couldn't have placed it better. My mind was blown. I'd seen this I'd experienced it, I was in a space of looking and this is what I saw, I was a witness.... my brain exploded.
Now, I've a feeling people would assume I'd had some sort of religious exultation, especially with the intensity of emotion I felt. I'm guessing some sort of divine moment of contact for me could be seen to have happened but surprisingly that's not where I went to. I had essentially an existential atheist epiphany. I wanted to place reason, meaning, context, definition on what I had seen. With time I've worked out that what was important is IT DIDN'T MATTER. I was at a point of total blankness and understood that I could see and construct a huge range of meaning from the null to the momentous and all meanings perceived were equally valid, and the emotion was huge, more than huge gigantic, it was raw, it was phenomenal, and it was scarily positive, but at no point did I experience any conception of any of this as being outside of me or that something else was effecting/affecting me. I totally owned what I saw, felt and thought.
I find it nigh on impossible to talk about this moment with a lot of religious folk in terms of atheist, agnostic, humanist experience as I think most folk would say I'm incorrect, or mock me, or deny the experience which I know I had so to fit that moment within their own world view (I know what it was I felt because I felt it).
I've read various passages and works and know the terms that religious sources mention - enlightenment, Tao, chi.. all of them placed within a religious , spiritual context and they all 'feel' the same as I understand within my own terms what is being talked about. But for me I'll say it again at no point did I experience it as a supernatural moment or want to define it as one.