many ways there may
be of being alive, it is certain that there are vastly more ways of being
dead.' Richard Dawkins, The Blind Watchmaker, 1986
In my most recent work I have created a collection of humanoid heads and animals from seashells. Since the early 1990's artists have used found objects as raw materials to engage with contemporary society through its bi-products. Previous to this body of work I had been manipulating toys, especially foreign varieties such as Pokeman, that had been such a craze in the UK to make installations.
This work started after visiting France and watching the build up of discarded shells on the table during a meal in a sea food restaurant. I felt a compulsion to use the shells, which while they are fascinating and beautiful, more importantly evoke the histories of the creatures that use to inhabit them.
The creatures made from shells that most people are familiar with are either mass produced in Asia, or commical crafted objects made by children in the UK after seaside excursions. I grew up by the sea and spent much time gluing and painting collected beach treasure. They therefore have a duality of referencing home craft and the mass produced products of an increasingly globalised world.
There is also the element of artist as playing god. I am one of an increasingly growing number of people who generally call themselves vegetarians but still eat fish and shell fish. By turning the discards from my meal into new creatures, am I trying to assuage guilt?The sculptures remind viewers of the classified zoological collections of the Victorian era and collected curiosities. While some viewers find the objects commical, an equal number find them sinister.
My creatures are surreal objects; one animal made from what use to be the homes of many much smaller creatures. Kitsch definitely, unique and hand crafted but also with imagined personalities.