Controlling the narrative – the nature of truth.

Challenge does not have to be undermining – maybe it could even help us repin our foundations. But the people who are served by a status quo are going to defend it by hook or by crook. Or by controlling the narrative.

There are people in the current government whose parents were immigrants, that support ‘closing our borders’ – at a time when we don’t have people to fill jobs and the economy is stagnating. Why wouldn’t we want immigration? The ‘win’ of Brexit came from selling fear, fear of being overrun by foreigners, or there not being enough to go around – promises of billions of pounds currently siphoned by the EU being freed up for the NHS, which would no longer overrun with health tourists. The truth is the NHS needs immigration – for all levels of staff. But if you can convince people something is true, it takes on its own reality. We were sold fear, and the fact that it’s pretty clear it was a ruse, is by the wayside now. Anyway, as always I’ve digressed – I don’t believe that these politicians are that right-wing, I think they see it as a strategic vote winner. Boris didn’t support Brexit until it served him. And don’t even get me started on Trump.

The backlash to challenging these things is being labelled a snowflake. Woke. How did being awake and aware become an insult? I think it should be reclaimed, like queer. Way back when being gay was the camp one in ‘Are you being served?’ Ask your mother. Now being queer is a rainbow of possibilities, but people had to stand up for this – challenge it. I’m not above having to be challenged regularly, and I’m not above laughing at myself. Things are moving faster, it took a long time to get the racial, gender and sexual stereotypes challenged in the mainstream. Looking back at “Little Britain’, much seems dated and offensive now. But sometimes meaning is misappropriated – like ‘Loadsamoney’ (another one to ask your mother!)becoming an icon for the very people it mocked. Not sure how I stumbled into a rubbish history of comedy here. My point though it that the pace of change is quickening, and this can be frightening. There are things I don’t understand, but then I don’t think I have to – but I do need to respect.

Challenging the status quo

For Christmas, I also got plenty of new ideas. So I’m going leaping into the New Year feeling excited, inspired, and motivated. Watch this space in 2023! Although I have a feeling of deja vu, did I say this at the beginning of 2022! I have put many studio hours in this year, and feel that my practice and my work is really moving on. Reviewing my work from this year and considering how to go forward with it, has been really useful. It’s great having that lull time just before and after Christmas. When else to you get the time to ponder life, and art and how many After Eights you can eat in a day? I’d recommend a fresh pair of eyes over your sketchbooks, and discarded ideas – things you’ve abandoned or rejected – maybe you were hasty? I’m considering how to take it to the next step. I’m looking forward to my Cowprint Artists Workshop with Charles Shearer in Feburary. To evolve my collagraph prints. I’ve got about a dozen paintings underway. I was hoping to get involved in a Printmaking Cooperative and get studio access, but I’m not sure that will happen, so I need to look at Portsmouth print studio maybe? I would love to do some etching again. But I’ve got plenty to be getting on with.  I can also work with materials that work well with the press and the tools I have. However, I could do with a big fat juicy new roller for my birthday if anyone needs a hint! I may decry capitalism, but I’m a sucker for a new bit of art kit.

I moved to Hamble on the outskirts of Southampton in late 2018, and was just starting to find my feet when lockdown stole 2021. Obviously, 2021 still happened, but it was for me (and probably you) a pretty insular experience. It carved a furrowed path that I’ve had to make conscious efforts to break out from in 2022.  Hamble is a beautiful village, with beautiful walks, plenty of good pubs and places to eat, there’s even a supermarket – working from home these days, it would be easy never to leave the village! Looking forward to getting back into the studio, starting tomorrow. I’ve got back into life drawing – in person rather than via Zoom. Courses coming up, Exhibitions to prepare for, Exhibitions to visit, ideas to explore. I’d better get on with 2023.

I think a big theme in my work will be looking at the subjective nature of truth. In 2022 we saw the court case between Heard and Depp play out like a pantomime. All across social media people demonised Heard. When ‘they’ weren’t calling for the head of Megan Markle on a stick outside the Tower of London. The truth declared, didn’t need to have solid foundations, it just needed to be excepted, and have real consequences. Do you remember Heather Mills, the second wife of Paul McCartney? How she was vilified and ridiculed? Do you remember how Linda McCartney was vilified and ridiculed? Until she got ill and vegetarianism stopped being a character flaw. Linda didn’t change, it was public perception. It seems that the world is particularly unforgiving of challenging women.

Sometimes I love to hear people’s interpretation of my work – it takes on a life (and truth) of its own.  The truth is, I often don’t know where I’m going, sometimes I grasp the meaning and intention during the process and other times I can only find it after the event. Rarely does other people’s interpretation colour my reality, but sometimes I don’t want to close them down and be prescriptive. There’s not a single truth.







Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *