Under the Influence…
November 19, 2007
One of the bits of this blog that gets most visits is the page called ‘Looking at…..’
In it I cite the artists who I’m currently influenced by, or at least, artists who I’m keen to look at and learn from.
I’m often asked who I’m influenced by and, despite the blog page, it’s a question I find difficult to answer. I’m can’t say I’m conciously aware of being influenced by anyone, though of course this is utter nonsense as we’re all influenced by others and inevitably ‘stand on the shoulders of giants’. The problem is it’s so hard to be aware of that influence.
However I am aware of finding certain artists ‘enabling’. By ‘enabling’ I mean that I probably wouldn’t work as I do without their example. For instance I owe a lot to Richard Long and his stone lines and circles…..
However, I’m not following in his path (no pun on his work intended) but rather forging my own, since Long’s concerns, aims and intentions are completely different from mine. But does this mean I’m influenced by Long? Of course it does – though subtly and indirectly, and hence the difficulty.
Similarly Andy Goldsworthy often gives me the confidence to make certain types of work though any similarities are purely coincidental (See previous posting ‘Shadows Past’)
In my newly proposed ‘Metamorphosis’ piece (see previous postings) where slate flakes will be spread on the floor in the form of a giant shadow I do feel that there is a danger some folk will see my work as a poor man’s version of a Tony Cragg ‘spread’…….
I only know Cragg’s work from books and the web, but I like what I see. Though I’ve never looked to him for ‘ideas’ or ‘inspiration’ I’d nevertheless say he’s another candidate for my personal collection of artists I find ‘enabling’.
There is nothing new under the sun – look hard enough and someone, somewhere will have made something similar to you. I often feel that at some point in his life Bruce Nauman has made work that pre-figures some aspect of just about everyone else working at present. Perhaps it’s a ‘zeitgeist’ thing?
So am I influenced by Long, Goldsworthy and Cragg? The answer is ‘yes’, although I’ve always developed my own work independently, finding my own path via my own working processes.
Artists like Cragg often make social comment in their work, which I never do. For me the big question (actually I think it’s the only question) is the one Gaugin asked: Where do we come from? What are we? Where are we Going?
Until I know the answer I’ll just get on with making what I can as best as I can. What more can one hope to do?