But what is your art about?

“A picture is a poem without words”
— Horace

I hate to question the knowledge of the mind that coined the phrase "carpe diem" but when it comes to artworks, everyone wants words.

This is something that I have struggled with from the start of my art career.

At art school we were asked to make a body of work that conceptually linked. I knew what I wanted to make but hadn't got a clue what it all meant and how it all fitted together. Most of the last two years there were spent feeling very jealous of my very self-assured and equally as talented peers who knew what they were making, why they were making it and what their overall message was.

Needless to say my grad show, which I was actually quite pleased with, didn't really make much sense to anyone else as I didn't know how to explain my then very conceptual pieces (to give you an example I made a sound piece where I overlayed the ticking of 60 pocket watches over one another but each overlay was 0.1 of a second out of sync with the one before. This came out of a podium whilst the hollowed out casing of an old pocket watch hung above it in the middle of the room. What did it mean? I couldn't tell you. But it felt like a good piece of art.)

It's the question almost everyone asks you when they find out you're an artist. "Oh that's interesting! What's your art about?". I feel like that should be a pretty simple thing to answer considering it's what I do for a living and spend 90% of my time thinking about but it's much more complicated than that.

I don't feel like the work I make is about a singular thing (this has been pointed out as a massive problem by many in the know as cohesion in a body of work is key) but rather that the overarching theme of my pieces is experimentation with materials as opposed to them all being 'about' something.

That being said there are common factors; most paintings are abstract, there are strong links to naturally occurring imagery and processes, lots of use of crystals (which I can write about the importance of for days-will probably make that my next post) and they're mostly monochromatic black and white.

Each work is a little world unto itself. Some I can give you a whole backstory for, others really are just trying to trap feelings in paint. 

I do also feel like this stage of experimentation and play is incredibly important in developing a style and an artistic voice. I can feel myself becoming a more cohesive and confident art-making being with each work so maybe I'll have to write a new post in a year about how I found my message.  

In the meantime, here's to making pieces that come from the heart.



Liffey Joy