I think that I am a painter, who sculpts.
Using everyday throw away transparent plastics inspired by geometry and natural forms, I melt and draw them out into new shapes and light them. An innovative process based on scientific and engineering processes, through reflection and refraction, colour takes on a material, physical form which changes as you move.
Often described as a ‘Quantum Artist’ because of my dual background as artist and physicist and the dual nature of the light I use, I realise these titles are no longer sufficient. Classification by boxes; but what if our ‘box’ exists between two other boxes? The quantum world is full of such paradoxes and much like the famed thought experiment by Schrodinger, it is only when we open our constructed box that we find out whether the ‘cat’ is alive or dead, science or art or indeed, still neither or both? At that point, all the possible worlds the cat could exist in fall to one; the wave function is said to have collapsed. The universe we see becomes the one we have helped create much like my work, where the shapes are freed from the material of plastic, almost creating themselves.
As an artist and public speaker, I have often spoken about the ‘minestrone’ that exists in our subconscious. A life time’s knowledge, which is thrown together and which incubates when we imagine we are doing other things. As we practise for longer, that minestrone becomes fuller and richer, with more and more ingredients, until the connections that have been alluding us become so transparently obvious, that we marvel at why it took so long.
Working in a forced isolation was right for me at one point in my career, but now that my work needs to say so much more about society and particularly our connections to each other and the environment, I have needed to rethink my ‘soup’ and the enlightening moment came after a recent visit to my ‘other home’ of Venice. A home of inspiration which I have been visiting since a small child.
It is strange how the subconscious will remain closed to what drives us until we are sufficiently driven to open and allow it to give up its answers. The current fascination with Neuro-aesthetics, AI, the next Tech and Biology Renaissance and what drives our minds, is testament to this. My work, particularly the portraits and the pieces on consciousness, have alluded a collapsing wave function until recently. I realise now, it is the Italian glass I have always seen, the processes of melting and change I have always taken for granted; the reflections and masks of the Venetian canals, the interactions of communities and passionate opinions I have always simply overlooked, which have informed so much of what I do.
Plastic like glass, has a natural malleable aesthetic and yet sometimes we can overwhelm with the inherent beauty of the material. Mastering a new way of making work and the necessary technique means we can sometimes lose sight of the ‘why’.
But my ‘why’ surfaced much like the pasta as it floats to the top in a minestrone; my ‘why’ is based in the quantum processes we increasingly understand are in everything, from the photosynthesis of plants to the navigation of insects, to the Smart phones that have become virtual limbs. We overlook these things purely because they are everywhere and always have been. But the very carbon technologies creating the plastics we use, may well see the demise of the other living, breathing ecological web we take for granted.
Perhaps, one day with the end of carbon based energies, we will have to go to museums precisely to see leaves-albeit in plastics , or will have to gain insight about how people really connected from the transparent portraits I have been moulding from death like masks so reminiscent of the Venetian plaster casts.
Being a painter who sculpts, means forever changing your perspective, staying open and is as much part of the creative process as is the serendipity and chance central to Quantum Theory.