Last month a series of mysterious artworks started to appear around town catching the attention of tourists and locals alike. These bold text-based pieces brightened up the corners of Blackpool with messages of hope and words of wisdom about living after experiencing trauma and loss. With a little help from the creative community I managed to track down the artist and speak to her about her work. In the second of two pieces for altblackpool The Fandangoe Kid tells me about her current practice and her plans for the future.
Could you tell me a bit about the work you are making at the moment?
I do a lot of work around strength and its relationship with gender and what that means today in 2018. This formed a key part of the Blackpool narrative: my dad was a boxer and, well, to put it lightly, lived on his wits and was, for me, the ultimate survivor.
He went into the navy as a young boy in the mid 50’s and had a tough life, with no real father figure, and then brought three daughters up to be as tough as him. He was never given the tools or the opportunity to be emotionally open or experience the power in being vulnerable and honest in this sense.
Since he has been gone, I have thought a lot about strength and have had to unlearn a lot of things I have been taught, choosing to face my losses in a different way. I think a lot of people, men especially, are taught to be tough and remain closed, my work seeks to challenge that. I work with young inner-city Londoners, coming from very complex backgrounds, having established an art department in a brand new, progressive school in Hackney, East London four years ago. Now I’m only there a few days a week, but my remit in setting this up was always to encourage young people to know themselves and understand themselves better through their creative practice. We aim to break down barriers, remove taboos around all complex subject matters, particularly gender, mental health and trauma and aim to maintain an environment that nurtures and encourages open communication.
People make everything I do, my work would be nothing without the responses of people who see my work on the street or participate in associated workshops, sharing their stories in ways that leave me full of awe. I feel honoured to have had so many incredible life stories shared with me!
I do a lot of work around emotional honesty, and recently finished a series of workshops looking at modern dating and how we communicate. I also collaborate a lot with director Tara Darby and we are in the process of making a series of films looking at dance and movement as a ritual for coping with pain and trauma, then several others looking at strength and gender and the relationship between the two, and what masculinity means in 2018. Additionally, I think I’ll probably be making work that looks at legacy, love and loss forever, as I know I’ll be processing my own story for the rest of my days and following the journey.
I really do believe that your grief is a measure of the love you feel for those you’ve lost, and, in this way, you keep them close and find a way to carry them without agonising pain.
Where are you off to next?
I’m going to New York for a few months to make work about beauty within trauma, as part of a residency. New York is where we lost most of our family in an accident and returning there to make this work is very important to my process and my practice. I’m interested in all the small, beautiful things that happen amidst heart-wrenching pain. The things that essentially keep you alive and waking up each morning. I have a lot of stories to tell from that era of my life, to let them go and shed some more layers of grief, but really at this point to connect to other people who may be going through the pain that I was once experiencing and, if possible, offer light in some way.
My work always aims to be non-prescriptive. I know first-hand that pushing an agenda when it comes to grief is just plain silly and naive, I just want to offer one perspective and if people can connect to it and access it in some way, then this just really makes me happy.
By Laura Shevaun Green, with thanks to Matthew Jones.
Photographs courtesy of The Fandangoe Kid.
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