Welcome to the matrix of the real
Sometimes, when I start a creating I think of Mopheus’s words from The Matrix: ‘Welcome to the desert of the real.’ I enjoy the fact that it’s a vintage statement that’s become part of our popular movie culture, that’s as familiar to teenage film obsessives as it is to philosophers.
To me the desert of the real is coincidentally the matrix of my work. That’s where I begin to find the documented evidence of real life, and for me it’s in old comic books, magazines, dictionaries, encyclopedias and used colouring-in books that children discarded as they moved on. I simply love the old stuff you find in charity shops and dustbins. The places it lands up really is the desert of the real.
If the old things I find came from the prized collections of people who’ve passed on, all the better. I don’t want to encourage the thought that my artworks are full of the spirits of the dead, but I’m sure they would be chuffed if they knew that their precious old things became part of an artwork. It’s like organ donation that gives an old heart new life.
For me, the matrix of a work has to be part of the world that was left behind before a new idea emerged. That’s why gold leaf also works perfectly. It reminds me of religious icons of orthodox faiths, where something heavenly is given a golden halo to show evidence of a figure that represents truth. I think of how there is an equality in world culture now, where the icons we bow to on a daily basis have a universal appeal. Besides people living where the media cannot go, just about everyone else can identify the characters from Star Wars, or Mickey and Minnie, or Garfield or the Simpsons.
Our gods are never simple, but they tend to be characters that talk to the way we rise above our humble station and conquer our fears. When I begin making a work I have a fear that the elements may not come together, that the composition will not take on a new life. But that’s where, for me, the experience becomes truly spiritual