An Aerial View Of An Anthem

‘Somewhere Else’, a term used by the late Sir Howard Hodgkin when talking about India where he visited each year for an extended period of time. He thought that ‘everyone has a somewhere else’. Did he believe it to be attached to a physical location, or rather something he considered to be within us.

I traveled to a foreign place without my usual anchors, habits or responsibilities. It was as if I had returned to a self I am unfamiliar with. It reminded me of when I visit the town where I grew up, when I am there it’s as if I am 18 again, as if all endured experiences from that time until now never happened. Perhaps in these times we return to a self that is always there but we just don’t access very often.

The term ‘the distant self’ has entered my vocabulary, derived from Hodgkin’s coined term ‘Somewhere Else’ as well as an essay I read by Sebastian Smee, Net Loss, where he makes reference to a line in an Alice Munro story that reads“ I wanted to hide so that I could get busy at my real work, which was a sort of wooing of distant parts of myself.”

Smee writes about … “the idea of a dark, inner being, silent, inaccessible – the part of us that comes into view while standing by a window at dusk, while walking in the suburbs at midnight or while listening to a melancholy song – has come to seem exotic and unfamiliar, like a rumoured lake in a forgotten forest, a living body of water which no-one has seen for years. Is this idea of the self, from which whole histories of literature and art have been woven, a mere fiction? Or is it just a stagnant entity, a despised leftover of an exhausted and tattered humanism?”

Perhaps it’s the part of the self that is the most undefinable, the one that cannot be affected or obscured by the restrictions of reality. It wants to swim in the dark out as far as possible with no concern of returning, perhaps it’s because it exists in the same place as the imaginary. Perhaps an artist making an artwork visits this same place that can never be mapped for a return visit.

In this new work for the exhibition ‘An Aerial View Of An Anthem’ I mine these thoughts in relation to the space beyond the horizon where there is no longer a line to move towards but rather it has been passed or the perspective has shifted. It’s like an aerial view of the sea where you cannot locate your coordinates, you know you are moving but to where is no longer the concern.

I stare at the sea and its parts move in slow motion, a dangerous, mysterious matter that my eyes cannot ever fully hold onto. When I imagine the sea consuming the land I am above it and there is a deep brooding song playing in the distance.