Mike Perry: ‘Môr Plastig’.
Mike Perry is local artist and photographer. He is now based in Pembrokeshire, where he is surrounded by the sea and nature, but also a few places with heavy industry like Milford Haven. That contrast between the beauty of the natural and the ugliness of human-made has formed the basis of his last couple of solo photography projects. The one I have been researching is a series from 2016-18 called ‘Môr Plastic’, Welsh for plastic sea.
In this series, Perry walked along the beaches of west Wales, picking up rubbish. He ended up focusing on specific themes like: Flip flops, bottles, rope etc.. He then took the objects home and photographed them face one, completely centred, well lit, on a plain background and in very high-res. The result is almost like a portrait of the object. You can see all the tiny details like: the wear, holes, barnacles, marks and cracks. The end result is often a small series of photos displayed together in a grid, showing the individuality of the plastic objects even though they might all be bottles.
The way Perry has photographed these bits of rubbish in a very matter of fact way, does display the aesthetic beauty and transience of the objects. They all have stories, some where all the way form Brazil and Japan and washed up on our coast. Obviously, the fragility of nature and our ecosystems is also represented in this work. Because the photos are of things from local beaches, there is a relatability and a local aspect that sparks a conversation more than maybe photographs of glaciers. That is also juxtaposed by the aesthetics of the colours, presentation and forms in the photographs.
I do find it interesting that Mike Perry has not gone down the road of making work that is obvious environmental activism or documentary. He is making us question consumerism and our relationship to the sea in a quite subtle way.
“My intention is to reduce the objects to their pure formal states separating them for a moment from any meaning beyond their sculptural presence. I present the objects as grids or in line sequence to emphasise the infinite choice offered by our consumer culture and to provide an aesthetic framework where colours and forms can work off each other”‘Mike Perry 2017’
Morton Wayne Thiebaud was an American painter. He is known for colourful works of common objects like lipstick and paint tins but notably a lot of food items and cakes. Strong use of colour and contrast is very prominent in his work. I think that his work is a great example of making the ordinary extraordinary. Thiebaud is a good inspiration for myself in how and what he created art about. He worked in a cafe when he was younger and was fascinated by how he could be creative and represent the environment he was in so other people are interested who may not normally be.
His later work was attributed to ‘pop art’ and that his influence may have stemmed from the commercial experience he had at Disney and in the Air Force special services as a cartoonist. He merged this with a more traditional style of painting and experimented with strong pigment, shadows and different brushstrokes. I find looking at his series of paintings of cakes and sweets quite calming. It feels like younger immersed in the scene and you appreciate the colours and forms.
“My subject matter was a genuine sort of experience that came out of my life, particularly the American world in which I was privileged to be . . . . I would really think of the bakery counters, of the way the counter was lit, where the pies were placed, but I wanted just a piece of the experience. From when I worked in restaurants . . . [it was] always poetic to me.”‘Wayne Thiebaud’.
I started looking at objects related to running that I have lots of at home. The main one being shoes. I find that is an almost guilt of mine that I have so many. I try not to be over consuming and have an ethical backbone. I suppose I just think of it like work, it’s just what I need to do to get to where I want to be.
This is a mind map/plan of how I think my project might develop.
This is an infinity drawing exercise I did. I just thought of words and phrases about how I felt and just wrote that over and over in different sizes, blind and from different angles. I was writing about how I felt about not running as I was feeling ill so I was stuck inside. I found it quite cathartic and I like how the meaning of the words is lost, you just notice the shapes and lines.
Here, again, I’m looking at repetition and the abstract/numerical side of running. These are the numbers I have worn for each race I was in.
David Bowie: ‘Moonage Daydream’.
I wanted to put a quick review of the film that I saw last week, as I think bits relate my my work and way of working. ‘Moonage Daydream’ is a posthumous documentary film by Brett Morgan about the life and career of David Bowie. The main thing that struck me was what a good painter he was. He made a lot of portraits especially that are very moving and individual. A lot in the style of people like Frances Bacon, Egon Schiele and Jenny Saville. I found his way of working as an artist and creating ideas quite inspiring. Bowie said in an interview that he was fascinated with the everyday world and finding the beauty and uniqueness in peoples’ experiences of the world.
“If you feel safe in the area you’re working in, you’re not working in the right area. Always go a little further into the water than you feel you’re capable of being in. Go a little bit out of your depth… (Then you’re) in the right place to do something exciting.”‘David Bowie’.
great quote by Bowie, i agree wholeheartedly and have always applied it my practice, I must always feel fearful. Ok so you need to jump in now, just pick a place to dive into it, don’t overthink, just take one small aspect of what you have looked at and thought about so far and begin to take it further…the runnign shoes and number bibs look good, they correlate with Perry’s work, is it the kit, the gear, the apparatus, is it the ‘feeling’ you want to convey or the absence of the feeling? this feels like the burning question that you need to answer in order to find your direction here.