Last weekend I had the privilege of taking part in the U-Boat Project Conference in Pembroke Dock. The Project is one of two major studies currently being undertaken by a group of research partners working with the Royal Commission, and it’s remit has been to concentrate on the many wrecks that lie on the seabed between Wales and Ireland which are part of the U-Boat activity of the First World War. I have been making work in my studio in response to this study so I was delighted when I was invited to take part in the conference.
Archaeology, and the situations and questions that archaeology throws up, are the focus for my work. I am continually exploring what it is that makes us human, and why it is that we have this connectivity with prehistoric peoples and ancient civilizations. Where does this come from, this sense of connection, and how does this affect the ways in which we perceive the world today? These are the kind of questions that underlie my work as an artist.
My work is abstract, and that’s because what interests me are the things that cannot be seen, the things for which no definitive visual imagery has yet been made.
I am interested in the truths that we take for granted, but for which there is, as yet, no settled visual language, the invisible realities that make up the richness and the fullness of human experience. That’s the adventure, that’s the challenge for me in making art.
It is amazing to think that those vessels have been lying on the seabed for over fifty years, and yet there has hardly been any awareness of them in the UK as whole. It is only now that the comprehensive research and mapping of them has been able to go ahead. That in itself is a curious reality, that something can really be there but go completely unnoticed and unseen.
This reminds me of the time when I observed a squadron of helicopters on military manoeuvres. I watched them fly out over the sea away from me until they completely disappeared. Then I looked through my binoculars and there they were. It was a vivid experience, knowing that something was there that I could not see, and it left quite a profound impression.