Theory / Scope
The ethos of my work operates on the basis of a quote from the father of modern medicine: “for where there is love of man, there is also love of the art.” Though speaking in the context of the relationship between the art of medicine/healing being intrinsically related to an appreciation of mankind, its transferable essence resonates with my belief that respect for art and culture forms a ground for commonality which can dilute enmity. It necessitates a bonding, presents the potential basis for an empathy between humans which far transcends artificial divides while celebrating individuality. Curator Salwa Mikdadi Nashashibi commented “Peace may become a reality when both sides respect each other’s culture.”
People who appreciate art or culture are less likely to seek to destroy or undermine its creators. My art has always been a unifying universal language, something upon which even my opposers could agree. History repeatedly documents how those who wish to oppress or overcome a populous usually also seek to destroy their art and cultural heritage, as if erasing their marks underlines another’s supremacy, recognising art as the ultimate shaping witness to our place in the world, our testimony to experiences, our visual signature saying “I was here”, the “affirmation of our existence” as Richard Sennett identifies.
What I wish to affirm through my work is not just about the space I occupy in this world, but my voice as an author. For my practice, Michel Foucault’s many considerations about authorship rest with this definition: “the function of an author is to characterise the existence, circulation, and operation of certain discourses within a society.” My practice seeks to send a body of work born of me into the world who will make their own conversations with viewers, possibly make viewers talk to each other and seek change from those questioned.
Working in the legal and human rights fields made me acutely conscious of how often rights are transgressed, how easily false narratives can become appropriated as fact. I therefore feel a dual duty to inform views with more authentic discourses by amplifying the realities about cultures, voices, or situations of oppression, as a means through which to posit commonalities which could join rather than divide those in opposition through art; that is what I want to pay into the “visual economy” of which Gillian Rose speaks, to recalibrate narratives with authenticity for ethical dividends.
Creating a new discourse should emanates from a place of internal authenticity; there is a specific resonance to discovering or questioning one’s internal world as a means of creating better discourses with the external world, and this particularly underlies my specific area of interest in borders and the art of Apartheid in modern contexts.
Authenticity is the bibliography of credibility and avoids artistic didacticism which would pollute the visual economy and devalue its currency. Telling my or others’ stories in a way which is true to me and them through image making is a unique way to feed digestible cultural nourishment into one look. How my process generates empiricism into my work influences style and subject matter/the story being told; personal truths freshen the eye’s palette to express other hues more sincerely. As Gertrude Stein said “the artist works by locating the world in himself.”
Like Serge Bloch, “I draw stories and write drawings..” How to present them spawns a frothing need to explore diverse material consciousness methods which develop my process.
I also want to tribute others amplifying their struggles to engender empathy, a platform for commonality in situations of social injustice, and to remind viewers you/they are here too. I respect that my freedom to speak my artistic voice or manifest my work as mine in a way I chose is a privilege, and the little to no consequences of doing so is something to which so many other artists or people living in oppressive situations of varying descriptions can only aspire. So it is not only for my voice that my work seeks to give visual life to the underlying Audre Lorde tenet that “difference must be not merely tolerated, but seen as a fund of necessary polarities between which our creativity can spark like a dialectic.”
To avoid my image making falling into the trap of merely being pictorial rather than discourse-driven, I reboot my motivations, approach and compositional focus by asking the question Lorde asks of us: “what are the words you do not yet have? What do you need to say?.... your silence will not protect you..”
I want produce a body of work which finds new ways to express tired or avoided topics about difference or oppression, to initiate new thought patterns in the viewer; to make addressing the power of unity and healing divides ‘cool’ and yet not didactic; to harness through art the alchemy between my heart’s eye’s core and the spectrum of social justice and human rights commentary, for as Khalil Gibran said “art arises when the secret vision of the artist and the manifestation of nature agree to find new shapes.” Finding new visual narratives or ‘shapes’ is exactly what art needs to achieve to insert itself into the public psyche and contemplation, for each image, each work, each attempt will amount to “an aggregation of small effects” which can build a home for discourse, justice and togetherness, or knock down a wall whose answer to dealing with difference is by propagating division or cultural isolation.
My final theoretical lenses of enquiry lie in John Berger quoting Freidrich Nietzche, and a Camille Paglia quote respectively:
“”We can have no idea,” wrote Nietzche “what sort of things are going to become history one day”” so working with what I want to say because I want to say it is the only way forward; and “Civilisation is defined by law and art. Law governs our external behaviour, while art expresses our soul.”
Fusing art and law is not just a personal definition for me, but it allows me to occupy the space between those apparently polar areas of practice which I inhabit. Through image making I redress the balance and restore some soul in art for others, while setting mine free and to rest at the same time.
 Lib Quotes. (n.d.). Hippocrates Quote. [online] Available at: https://libquotes.com/hippocrates/quote/lbc0d8q [Accessed 8 May 2021]. Also referenced within link as Hippocrates (ed. 1923) likely Hippocrates (1923). [Works]. London, -31.; and at page 399 of Jackson, S.W. (1999). Care of the psyche : a history of psychological healing. New Haven: Yale University Press which refers to source as Henry, W., Edward Theodore Withington and Hippocrates (1923). Hippocrates. With an English translation by W.H.S. Jones (vol. 1, 2; vol. 3 by E.T. Withington; vol. 4 [including the text and translation of Heracleitus on the Universe] by W.H.S. Jones). William Heinemann: London; G.P. Putnam’s Sons: New York.
 Anon, (n.d.). Palestinian Artists Working under Siege by Salwa Mikdadi-Nashashibi – Station Museum of Contemporary Art. [online] Available at: https://stationmuseum.com/past-exhibitions/made-in-palestine/palestinian-artists-working-under-siege-by-salwa-mikdadi-nashashibi/ [Accessed 8 May 2021].
 Sennett, R. (2009). The craftsman. London: Penguin Books
 Leitch, V.B., Cain, W.E., Finke, L., Mcgowan, J., T Denean Sharpley-Whiting and Williams, J. (2001). The Norton anthology of theory and criticism. New York: W.W. Norton & Company.
 Page 11, Chapter 1.1.3 Rose, Gillian Visual Methodologies: An Introduction to Researching with Visual Materials (Sage Publishing, 2016)
 www.goodreads.com. (n.d.). A quote by Gertrude Stein. [online] Available at: https://www.goodreads.com/quotes/695706-the-artist-works-by-locating-the-world-in-himself [Accessed 8 May 2021].
 Brereton, R. (2009). Sketchbooks: the Hidden Art of Designers, Illustrators and Creatives. Laurence King Publishers
 Lorde, A. (2018). The master’s tools will never dismantle the master’s house. London: Penguin Books.
 Lorde, A. (2017). Your silence will not protect you. UK: Silver Press.
 Kahlil Gibran: Art arises when the secret vision of the artist and the manefestation of nature agree to find new shapes. (n.d.). Retrieved May 8, 2021, from www.quotes.net website: https://www.quotes.net/quote/2814
 Sennett, R. (2009). The craftsman. London: Penguin Books
 Pages 10-11 of Berger, J. (2020). Steps towards a small theory of the visible.. UK: Penguin Random House
 Paglia, C. (2013). Glittering images : a journey through art from Egypt to Star Wars. New York: Vintage.