This is the second piece I’ve made for Advent on the streets of Parson Cross in Sheffield. The site is an old garage, walled up with breeze blocks, behind the Parson Cross Inn.
I felt more confident with this work as I’m beginning to get a feel for the medium (and if anyone has a wall that they’d like me to paint please get in touch as the process is addictive). The position is quite prominent, but as it’s in a car park there were fewer passers by. Nevertheless, those that did stop to chat gave me the same mixture of warmth and warnings as I’d experienced before: delight and surprise at something like this appearing on the estate along with comments such as, ‘That won’t last 5 minutes, there are so many wankers round here’.
As I spent less time talking and more time just being in the place I was able to experience the textures and feelings of the location more deeply:
The puddle right in front of the wall that I fell foul of several times as I stepped back to look at the image, mud sliding underfoot and oil from the paint making rainbow patterns on the water.
The roughness of the stone and the way the paint picked out the cracks and crevasses.
The keen December wind whisking the paint away from the surface before it had chance to make a mark.
And then the image itself emerging on that abandoned, burnt out shed round the back of a pub; Vibrant colours amidst the brown and grey, hopeful and fragile, beautiful life in an ordinary place.
D:Sign 1, D:Sign 2, D:Sign 3
This is another of the images where the first draft was rejected. Here is the published photograph:
This is the image that was rejected:
Once again I prefer the original piece. It’s interesting to me why it was rejected, the reason given was because certain people felt that it portrayed a female figure in subservience to a male figure and they thought that the two should be made more equal. How much is in the eye of the beholder! The incident provoked thoughts for me about the difference between art and propanganda and so instead of tweaking the orignal to suit an agenda I changed the idea to just a single figure.
In fact this is one of the most personal images in the series, rather than depicting a female and male figure (their gender is deliberately ambiguous) it explores some of my own experience of being a gay man in the church . This touches on so many important and sensitive areas of diversity and equality which are clearly uppermost in the mind of those who wanted to see male and female figures depicted equally; but in bringing their own prejudices to bear on the image they (inadvertently I’m sure) silenced my voice in a small way. I’m not claiming any great martyrdom here – clearly I still have a voice otherwise I wouldn’t be able to write this and have it read across the world – but perhaps the story acts as a parable for how the genuinely voiceless are kept silent by the efforts of the well meaning.
This response also makes me wonder about both images: Is the multi-coloured figure necessarily more feminine and the black and white more masculine? How do richness, ambiguity and diversity sit alongside a harsher, black and white framework? Do different people think in these different ways – if so, who would serve who and who would crucify who? Is there anyway in which the two could communicate and understand each other in a mutually enriching manner?