Post art school – I have a full time job, live in a rented shared flat. I can’t afford a studio and resort to creating my artwork in the very sparse spare time and space that I have (mostly in the lounge to my flatmate’s annoyance). Why do I do it? Perhaps I need to see a psychoanalyst? Things kind of came a little more clearly to me when I was researching for my latest series of work – The Unknown Hortus. When I started planning my work for my first solo exhibition, I had no idea what was going to happen. Where do you start? It’s not the normal process of creating a series without a specific deadline and no brief from a client. It was like being back at art school, preparing for your final graduating show – except there is no one to ‘constructively’ criticise you. The images I create always follow a reoccurring theme and process, so I knew it was wise to develop this further. The theme of the garden motif, investigating the symbolism of the English landscape and the mysterious monuments and follies often found within it. Its very English, and I’m not sure if everyone will get it, but as long as it sparks some curiosity I am perfectly happy. The title of the show originates from the Latin phase ‘Hortus Conclusus’ meaning enclosed garden. I got to this point after reading The Door in the Wall by H. G. Wells. I have always loved the story of The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett as a child and this was the very book that inspired her to write it. This story examines the contrast between aesthetics and science and suggests both the magic and the danger of nostalgia for a buried time. It is a story about politician Wallace who, while growing up in a joyless home, discovers a door in a wall leading to an enchanted garden. Wells’s recurrent theme of science versus art is part of a wider contrast between the rational and the imaginative elements of experience. Wells has often been portrayed of being caught on an intellectual battleground between his scientific training in rational thought and his gift of a vivid imagination. The characters’ inability to bridge the gap between his imagination and his rational, scientific side eventually leads to his death. So I came up with the idea to create a series that offers a secret passage of escape into another and altogether more beautiful world. Everyday we see our world fair and common, the hoarding and the pit - the absolute mundane. By our daylight standard we have walked out of security and into darkness and the unknown. These landscapes have been distorted into an almost untouchable state and this leads to the question; are we the victims of that fantastic dream?

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MAKING THE UNKNOWN HORTUS