Plastic ornaments and symbols, glass, wood
1970mm X 1200mm
auxesis In rhetoric, an amplification or hyperbole. In auxetic speech we can turn pebbles into pearls and thistles into tall trees. Auxesia is the Greek goddess of growth. A hyperbole is a figure of speech in which the expression is an evident exaggeration of the meaning intended to be conveyed, or by which things are represented as much greater or less, better or worse, than they really are; a statement exaggerated fancifully, through excitement, or for effect.
In 2007 I made a work from old, scarred planks on which countless granite slabs were cut up. I rescued these unwanted wooden props from the fire because of their rugged appeal and with the help of my son Martin re-constructed them to spell two words: "fucking beautiful." The name of the work is "Coprophemism" - a figure of speech whereby something pleasant or posititive is expressed in a vulgar manner.
I took my daughter Emma to a large oriental shopping centre near my home when she came home from Wales for the grand holidays in 2009. Shops selling plastic beads and fake jewellery were full of shoppers. Every possible religious symbol that could be made was there in every imaginable size and colour at dirt cheap prices. The Chinese have perfected the art of making plastic look like the real thing and people were spending lots of money - it was kind of exciting to watch.
Piles upon piles of counterfeit personal ornaments, such as necklaces, rings and bracelets, that are typically made from or contain jewels and precious metal abounded. I had read Umberto Eco's "Travels in Hyper Reality" and the idea of 'fakes' supplanting 'real things,' becoming 'more real' than the 'real', in other words, 'hyperreal', came back to me.
I had entered the world of the phony, of synthetic bling and it intrigued me that anyone could be hooked on such unspeakable rubbish. Bewildered I went through a phase of self-examination and doubt. Clearly the shops had a great allure, and I found myself staring, even hooked, at the cornucopiousness of it all. I could not find a single article worth wearing or collecting, yet being immersed in such abundance of colour and glitz was hard for me to get away from. In the end I left with a number of bags filled with the very thing I despise.
At home I trifled for a while with my 'treasures.' I experienced an aesthetic and moral conflict that raged between abhorrence for the sheer ugliness of the single items and the fascinating beauty of the resplendent coruscations. In the end I decided to go back for a lot more. In the work "Coprophemism" no one wanted the original material and yet I could not help celebrate its attractiveness - "fucking beautiful." Now everyone I saw shopping wanted the material in spite of the fact that it was such appalling kitsch - so clearly "fucking ugly." The Bible has an ironic point: "And, behold, there are last which shall be first, and there are first which shall be last." (Luke 13:30)