Picturing the Child
My project-based research is titled “Picturing the Child”, and it is focused on the practise of painting. It is intended to develop my practice and alongside to widen and to deepen theoretical understanding of the issues as they emerged out of studio practice.
My paintings are in the strictest sense representational and their subject- matter is the child and childhood seen as the site around which certain psychological and social preconceptions are played out. This might be broadly stated as the child and child’s consciousness of ‘self and other’, versus the adult consciousness of child; the assumption of innocence as it is understood or is constructed by a knowledgeable, sexually oriented adult. In the context of my painting this can be crudely divided between ‘child’ as subject and the painter’s – therefore the viewer’s – gaze. In this respect it links to a wide range of references derived from post war art history and popular culture.
It reengages with some of the stylistics tropes of Pop but very much after the theorising of the image which occurred in the last ten or fifteen years as part of the wider debate around representation. In this respect my paintings depend as much upon the applied rhetoric of ‘pulp culture’, lifestyle magazine, commercial photography etc. as they do upon the specifics of contemporary art practice. They also end up using many different language forms from the clichéd exaggerations and stereotypes of the cartoon to the most exacting forms and manners of representational painting.
At a deeper sense my paintings are engaged with memory and it is this element, which secures them against the charge of an untrammelled voyerism. As well as looking at childhood as it is lived by the younger members of my family, and I am also seeking to recover some sense of my own childhood at one removed – as a form of introjection and as part of the ‘adult’ collective consciousness.
At this stage I anticipate that the theoretical support for this project will range over a number of theoretical domains: psychoanalysis, social anthropology, art history, literature, politics and critical theory.