The purpose of this short article is an attempt to show my creative journey as it were underpinning my interest in entering the world’s largest annual open arts event, the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition. After going through many of my photographs to select something suitable for the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition (RASE) 2013, I have submitted 2 works entitled:
2) Past Present
In effect, this work is a diptych as it combines two photographs taken recently in the area near to London’s Waterloo Station and which were attached to a previous Red Room blog of mine.
One of the images is of a large poster fixed to a fence beside a raised railway line well above head height of the singer Lana Del Ray and advertising her album ‘Born To Die’ looking down on passers-by in this busy English urban setting. When I saw this hoarding at first, I recall thinking, “Bugger that sentiment about being born to die. As far as I’m concerned I was born to live!” But there was something else about this weird poster that caught my attention as it reminded me of a period in my misspent youth.
I remembered that I had a photo – a self-portrait – taken when I was 16 or 17 in the early 1970s in which my long-hair was visible –reflecting a rebellious style that was all the rage in those days amongst us teenagers at the time. [Please note that I have not yet shown this image on my blog but will rectify this omission shortly.] This picture of me as a youngster from 40 years ago was, in my opinion, very similar to the contemporary portrait of Lana Del Ray in terms of hairstyle and facial appearance. So the contrarian artist in me with Irish blood decided to use these creative elements in a unique collage that would then become one of the pictures that I would be sending in as a (hopeful) submission to RASE 2013.
So on the left-hand-side of the of the (framed) work-to-be that would be measuring 26x16 inches, I decided to insert a picture of (a youthful) me as a poster adjacent to and looking the same as Lana Del Ray as if affixed to the same fencing by the elevated railway line leading into Waterloo Station. Except that the caption on ‘my’ poster was to be: ‘Nick Mackey – Born To Live’ in apposition to Lana Del Ray’s pronouncement of ‘Born To Die’.
On the right-hand-side of the work in preparation was to be a second photo of a large mirror ‘bank’ in the same vicinity of south-east London which had a (distorted) reflection of the Lana Del Ray poster, showing a little of the surrounding area with two lonely human figures walking by and a bare tree visible. Thus, the latter picture was to be a ‘reflection’ of the first showing both posters of Lana Del Ray and myself. The photo on the right-hand-side was to be placed on the bottom right-hand-side and so ‘lower down’ in relation to the other image on the top left-hand-side.
I decided to extend the ‘narrative’ of the work with the addition of some script to the imagery because I get a kick out of combining words and pictures to see what artistic effect can be achieved and also as a throwback to my days as a photojournalist in another life/universe. So, I concocted a phrase, ‘Born To Die or Born To Live’ placing it on the upper right-hand-side blank space still available in large black handwriting and then on the lower left-hand-side, I wrote the words, ‘Watching Me, Watching You’.
The 'watching' part of this work is drawn from a number of elements contained in the pictures: the CCTV cameras visible pointing at the general public in this part of London thus exemplifying how 'Big Brother' is keeping us in his sights 24/7, how Lana Del Ray (in the poster) appears to be staring down at the hoi polloi and how one of the (male) characters shown in the photo on the right-hand-side of this diptych is staring at a female passer-by in the distance. This then begs the question, who is watching us and who are we watching?
(To be continued – re. ‘Past Present’)