THE CLOWN COMES TO TOWN
I initially considered this project in 2003, a few years after arriving in NYC. At this time I made a single exploratory "self portrait". Perhaps not a self portrait in it's purest form as I collaborated with another acting as my stand in and who would serve as my minds observational reflection. After this first image I housed the idea away in my mind for another 13 years and whilst I thought about it often I never felt the time was right.
The idea originated from the fact that within such a small and often intimate island wilderness many, including myself, arrive to be inspired and surrounded by wonderment. For some it's in the hope of achieving their dreams, other's to escape a past or indeed hide and seek reinvention, some hope for a last grasp future but few go to NYC to retire. Therefore an incredibly positive energy can be found in the city, so much so that it reminded me of the anticipation a child feels going to the circus and so the choice of clown is offered as a symbol of curiosity, innocence and a sense of discovery in a new world rather than the obvious. The mask serves not to hide, but to represent many as one and at the same time remove any human recognisable surface traits. so whilst this is partly a self portrait series it is hopefully also something other's may recognise in themselves.
Whilst an admirer of other's self portraiture I often struggle with the idea of creating my own "self portrait". A form of expression to consider all that represents me or to be more precise offers an inner collective of who I am. My emotions, thoughts past. present and hopes of a future and being able to then confine all that's developed over the years and what's made me who I am into a very precise moment is something I have questioned. How could I collect or express all that within a rectangle or frame(s), I was looking for an ending I suppose rather than documenting a journey in part. Therefore my "self portrait " can only ever be pieces from a greater jigsaw the final image I cannot ever make. There's also a slight dichotomy within me insofar as I offer part self portrait in every single image I create even when it's of another as the decision or selection is made when I deem it to be the right time to press the shutter. I am the sole judge over such an event. I'm also aware of being raised in a time and environment where the thought of pointing a camera at oneself would have been considered absolutely narcissistic rather than part of a creative, and self understanding process. For this reason I fear a little of this has perhaps been ingrained in who I am and in itself is a little ironic. I also recognise parts of myself in other people and find this probably more interesting than looking at my own considered inward representation. This is another reason I sought another to collaborate and play a role in my self portrait.
I've only once previously exhibited a self portrait. This was part of a collective artists show at The Royal Scottish Academy, Edinburgh in 2007.
In 2016 knowing I'd be moving away from NYC I decided to finally create "The Clown Comes To Town" portfolio. This isn't the end of the journey and one day I hope to re discover this great city and more of who I am but for now a chapter has closed as another opens. The final image I made for this portfolio was created on the block I called home and with the cross walk sign captured at 13 to represent the years from it's first consideration to it's final moment, (well at least for the time being). As I've previously stated I again asked someone to stand in for me as this not only allowed me to release the camera's shutter when I felt the time was correct but it also allowed me to distance myself and observe myself as another under instruction from myself and see how they would interpret this and any similarities.
Below is a small selection from this portfolio. Please click on each image to expand.