This is the statement I wrote for the series of work I created for the group show, Heroes in 2015.
In literature, the hero as protagonist is a trope reaching back to the times of ancient mythology. There is a prominent distinction between good and bad, light and dark, especially in children’s literature and fantastical tales. Of course there are exceptions to the rule, but I think it is not too bold to state that most children’s stories have a didactic element to them that often result in the polarisation of moral elements.
My art inhabits a grey realm between fine art and illustration. I use many of the themes, visual vocabulary, and metaphors within the genre of illustration, but at the same time I attempt to problematize certain aspects of it. These pictures appear to be whimsical fantasy scenes, but they are often serious and personal reflections. I would like to believe that my art embraces contradictions; it is both the expression of playfulness and solemnity, whimsy and pensiveness.
The story fragments or fictive tableaus presented here in word and image reflect my views on heroism. In some of these pictures, such as The Ramshackle Buskaneers, a climactic battle has been fought and all that remains is an unresolved and dissatisfied denouement. In others, like Little Balloon Boy or Monkey Lamps, even the climax is absent. I draw both personal and artistic inspiration from views held by the late David Foster Wallace on heroism:
True heroism is minutes, hours, weeks, year upon year of the quiet, precise, judicious
exercise of probity and care – with no one there to see or cheer. This is the world.
A morbid bunny contemplating the nothingness of existence or an imaginary creature pierced by imaginary arrows might not seem as heroic as the escapades of popular heroes, but perhaps their actions (or inactions) are just as powerful as those of Beowulf or Achilles. My creations may well embody a heroism informed more by a disposition of caregiving and introspection as opposed to acts of great power.
Illustration in itself is sometimes not considered as forming part of the ‘Fine Arts’ family, but more as a bastard child, spawned in a scandalous union between word and image. My pictures are my own restless bastard children; they are not fully at home in fine art galleries, and yet they are also not at ease encased between the covers of a book. Like their creator, they feel safest in the ever shifting periphery.