'Affirmative 1' was installed in Peckham Square, London, SE15, in October 2016.
The street signs with the words ‘always yes’ and the three directional arrows impart a positive mentality and a positive energy to passers by as they engage in the world around them.
The site specific installation makes use of this busy public space where people cross by foot and on bicycle in multiple directions. The arrows on the street signs point toward the different directions you can take to cross Peckham Square; whilst suggesting a new underlying directional approach to take with your life.
This public art intervention appropriates the life affirming ‘yes saying’ philosophy of Friedrich Nietzsche through an exploration of James Joyce’s novel ULYSSES. It explores ‘virtue ethics’ as an underlying character style or mentality that informs the way you act in the world; as well as looking at how ethics and aesthetics can be combined to affect the way people feel, think and act in the world.
'Affirmative 1' has also been commissioned as an interior wall art installation for commercial offices at 10 - 12 Eastcheap, London (Winner of the Camberwell Chelsea Wimbledon Colleges of Art Graduate Sponsored Project 2016); as well as being installed on the exterior wall at the Lubomirov / Angus - Hughes Gallery, London: 2016 - 2017
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Installation shot at Peckham Square
Artist's talk at Peckham Square:
Well the piece riffs on the kind of traffic sign lane directions you see when you drive down the motorway and have to get in the correct lane in order to get to your destination: left hand lane for Wales, middle and right lanes for The North etc.... -these large directional signs always point at key directional places.
So in the case of my signs the word “ALWAYS” is divided into six different lane markings, referring to the direction of the six arrows, as in every direction, every way. "ALWAYS" also references the notion of time –as in all the time / the whole time.
The street signs also point at the key directional and psychological concept “YES” as well as symbolically employing the Highways Agency colour blue which is geared toward highlighting main directional places.
The piece draws on the idea from poetry of a “field of energy”…usually this is where the words run across the page in a rapid free form flow of consciousness …but I’ve translated this term into a verbo-visual field of energy where the symbolic arrows and conceptual words form a visual as well as a conceptual field of energy…
Also talking about the discipline of Painting as well as Poetry; so obviously we’ve gotten off the page, we’ve taken the words off the page, and we’ve taken the symbols and words off the canvas, and were hanging this field of energy in a real architectural space, a real lived environment where it can throw around its attitude to a real living audience …and hopefully affect the way they think feel and act.
So here we are making use of the architecture of the space…and actually I hadn’t thought of this until very late…when I was having to consider the health and safety aspects of one of the signs which was over hanging a cycle lane….and I had to offset the sign to avoid any overhang….and suddenly the signs which are both off set at either end created a theatrical stage…with a greater continuity of flow between the mid point…so now its like you walk through this attitudinal and energised theatrical zone created by the signs….
And also its difficult to see here with the architectural supports being so high up for the street signs…but you can get it in some of the close up photographic shots near to the top of the sign where you have the brutal materiality of the iron struts with rust and flakes of paint next to the word ‘yes’ –the contrast giving a tonal quality to the resonance of the work. And so I’m thinking in the future that this contrast of materiality as well as brut architecture is a nice thing to play around with when you’re dealing with the connotation of visual words within real public architectural space.
Finally turning to the issue of Painting and the support/ the frame: you know, a lot of painting is about the support, the substructure, the frame as a metaphor….but in this case I’m using signs as a framing device…and most signs are framed with a marking around the edge….but I have removed the boundary marking so the energy can flow from the sign, particularly from the arrows and into and across the blank 3 dimensional space of the architecture of the square….so in a sense I have extended the field of energy beyond the structure of the sign and into and across the expanse of the square…
Installation shot at Peckham Square
Installation shot at Peckham Square