We cage animals and confine them in nature reserves, and, in doing this, we destroy a wild sense of freedom that was once our natural mind. Today, we surround ourselves with concrete, steel, and glass, and we farm the land to uphold an unnatural existence. We consume energy at an ever increasing rate and breed beyond the natural limits of the ecological balance of life on earth. We seem to be creating an artificial environment full of all the cleaver ideas we have imposed upon the earth, and nothing is natural in this modern human world. We have alienated ourselves from nature, and you find yourself struggling to get a glimpse of what little remains of the freedom of your animal mind amongst all the artificial demands for art to be decoration, investment, and to meet the consumer life style. You work to avoid this influence until you fall exhausted, bloodied, and inert.
“Man is the unnatural animal, the rebel child of nature, and more and more he turns himself against the harsh and fitful hand that reared him”. H. G. Wells
"It is a scientific fact that human beings are animals. Genetically we are almost identical to other primates and the evidence for the psychological and behavioural similarities between human beings and other animals is continually increasing as ethologists make new discoveries. Nowadays, it is extremely difficult to find a single feature or ability which would set us apart. Still, we tend to conceive of ourselves as beings that differ from animals – not only because we are accustomed to thinking that our psychological and other abilities differ in degree. Despite scientific evidence, we have adopted a profound cultural conception of a radical disparity between us and them."
Juhana Toivanen, Perception and the Internal Senses: Peter of John Olivi on the Cognivie Functions of the Sensative Soul. Brill, 2013
“All my work is an attempt to help you realise we all possess two way of looking. A learned intelligent way and an inherent instinctive way. I, as an artist, would like you to look in the inherent way but you won't do this because you are born to project intelligent 'learned' ideas over all you see and do. This is the way your mind has evolved because this way of thinking gave your distant ancestors a greater chance of survival in a world sensed by instinct. We now inherit a state of mind that works all the time to stop us sensing the old instinctive experience in our day-to-day encounters with objects and events. The way we are born to look therefore subdues our powers of perception. We look through sensations built by learned ideas that impose a view controlled and organised by our intelligence, and this suppresses a deeper emotive and original experience of what we see.”
I am a self-taught artist.
No formal qualifications.
I worked on a car assembly line as a manual worker and then at Aston University, Birmingham, England. I have, throughout this time, formulated an independent concept of art, and I retreated to work in isolation in 1970. Here I began searching for a way to make objects without design in an attempt to sense by intuition and instinct rather than intelligent understanding.
I believe an artist is a person who 'feels' a natural way of sensing that is inherent from our animal origins, but we are taught to ignore this experience because, to see it, you have to look towards not understanding and to act by chance and accident. Schooling teaches you to avoid this attitude by moulding your natural intuitive 'animal' mind into a controlled construct, but this destroys, rather than reveals, our original way of sensing the world. In art, this results in an approach that directs your thinking to making work that fits an established 'learned' idea equated to commercial success and social values. This educated notion of art arose in the past because no one had any idea we inherit an 'animal' way of sensing, but we now understand we have evolved from bestial origins. This means that if you want your art to reflect this understanding you have to work outside established views.
This opinion has always been with me from childhood. It caused no end of problems at school because I objected to being indoctrinated to a formal educational curriculum. I was, therefore, considered a misfit and I rebelled against authority. I saw my teachers trying to brainwash me in a state school system designed to turn young people into factory fodder for industry. As a result of my disruptive attitude, I left school at 15 with no formal qualifications and ended up working on a car assembly line. This fostered my life-long belief that the only way to achieve success in any walk of life is to destroy your natural sense of freedom. You are required to shape your creative mind to fit into an established system, and if you refuse to play by the rules you get rejected. To me, this indoctrination robs you of a insight that once revealed a view of objects and events through natural intuitive responses, and you are taught to look through an unnatural educated way of thinking. I see this reflected in art when an artist learns technique and the need to make work that displays meaning, market value and relevance to social needs. I believe this results in an elitism in the professional art world that is now upheld by selection committees, teachers, academics, and gallery owners who have arrived in positions of authority by having been taught an established idea rather than see art as search for freedom of mind.
The prevailing view is that to be an artists you should create work that is relevant to what is taught in colleges and universities, rather than, as I believe, seek to make art as a unique attempt to rediscover what remains of the freedom of the 'animal' experience of mind. This makes me an outsider who sees the requirements taught to meet an educated idea of art implies a fear of our 'animal' nature. It seems to me we are creatures who despise rather than celebrate our animal origins, and we manufacture artificial environments that look to control nature rather than see ourselves as an integral part of nature. This point of view made me a misfit at school and continues to make me an outsider, but I have come to realise that what I 'feel' in my mind can only be glimpsed when all clever learning is kept out of my powers of perception. I try to look through a naivety that only intuition and instinct can give to you, but the unguided free-form of art this fosters is seen as an undesirable commodity. It is my belief that we should, somehow, stop imposing command of thought over art and try to allow wildness to show us the way. I hope my work reflects some of this freedom of mind that learning arose to remove from the art of the past and our view of the world.