A few months ago I visited a local Boot Fair where one of the stall holders gave me a huge collection of slide photos for free. There were the photos of strangers – from their past holidays – all of which seemed to be organised tours – packages of places.These were not true representations of the world but rather versions created by and for the tourist.
They are an archetype of the non-place.They have an atmosphere of alienation .In some there are crowds of people who remain strange to each other – united in tourism yet in reality apart .
In others there are huge tree lined boulevards – built for the automobile and daunting for the pedestrian .They made me wonder about how these places were before man’s impact .
‘Place and non place are rather like opposed polarities:the first is never completely erased, the second never totally completed:they are like palimpsests on which the scrambled game of identity and relations is ceaselessly rewritten.But non-places are the real measure of our time.( Auge 1995:79)
This idea of the palimpsest interests me greatly.The idea of place as both concrete and imagined and the resultant layering of both.Perhaps life in the west is becoming less concrete and more imagined – our take on the world influenced enormously by our past experience and the ongoing growth in technology. Do we live now in surrounds which are overwhelmingly the product of the imagination – or has it always been that way?Perhaps it is simply natural that we attempt to impose order over chaos – for centuries man has tried to get a handle on nature – think of farming as an example.
The urban sprawl portrayed in my latest paintings are imaginary worlds.Taking details from different slide photos I have created works which are in effect palimpsests – comprising elements from different photos.An overlapping of recorded moments – a collage of time and place.They are composites of moments and places experienced by an unknown photographer combined with photographic slide images from souvenir shops .They are more about how we experience and remember place not just by direct perception alone.Our expectations of place ( based on many things such as the media or the tourist industry ) , alter how we ultimately respond to it. These images are collages of the physical and the psychological which go together to make place what it is.