Greggs (2018), 140cm x 117cm, satin
Obstruction given by Jack Doyle: Make it Virtual
With the obstruction “Make it virtual” I didn’t want to take it so literally as to just create a virtual piece of work, this felt too black and white. I found myself looking into the adjective: “virtually”. I wanted to play with the idea of having a piece of work that was “virtually complete” or “almost complete”, but not quite. I have never found myself creating a piece of work which was not meant to be finished and so that became interesting in itself. I had to question what would I create that wasn’t finished and more importantly, why would it not be finished?
In 2019, an advert was published by the British government which urged people working in the arts to consider retraining to decrease levels of unemployment, this recently resurfaced on social media in October. On seeing this advertisement it occurred to me that one thing which would never be “finished” was my employment, skills and ever-growing list of job roles. Rethink, Reskill, Reboot showcases some of the roles in which I have worked since my first job at Greggs in 2012.
I have worked in part-time roles alongside my art career for the past 8 years. I feel some artists can be quite private about having a second job as if they don’t want to disclose it out of fear or not being considered a “valid artist”. This piece acts as an opportunity to be open and honest about the need for working other jobs alongside art practices. It's commonplace and is nothing to be ashamed of. For the majority of working-class creatives, their artistic practice is not their main source of income - my hope with this piece is to remind artists that having a side hustle does not and will never diminish the legitimacy of their artistic endeavours.
A questionnaire was issued by the government as part of the National Careers Service to help people in choosing a new career pathway; it advised me to consider becoming a paramedic. All of my past roles featured on the banner have no relation to healthcare. The government's careers questionnaire seems to ignore both my past job experiences and my artistic practice by simply reassigning me to a different sector of work - like the strange beginnings of a dystopian novel. Arts and culture are vital to a healthy society and nobody should be asked to abandon their passions to solve a government's rising unemployment rate.