OCA preloader logo
Confessions of an art student: Part 5 - The Open College of the Arts
To find out more details about the transfer to The Open University see A New Chapter for OCA.
Explore #WeAreOCA
Skip Navigation
Confessions of an art student: Part 5 thumb

Confessions of an art student: Part 5

Towards an artistic Statement or a Logical Conclusion

“Where then do meaning and truth reside? In the texts themselves or in me? The answer is that they reside in both, precisely the dialogic space of interpretation itself. This is so, I would argue, for any inquiry- be it “artistic” or “scientific”- that seeks to understand the features of the world.”

This quote from Martin Freeman’s book “Re-writing the Self” p.230 made me think about what my art means to me and how I explain it to myself and others. This is the core of an artistic statement. It is curious that it should catch my attention at a time when my art process involves a dialogue with the work trying to find unconscious truths about self through automatism.

I confess I am writing these contributions in retrospect, reflecting upon a past me, seldom in the now, dreaming of a future me- the one that passes BA (hHons) Painting with a 2:1. My recollection is flawed and, thanks to Daniel Schacter, I am aware of the seven sins of memory. Transience, absent-mindedness, blocking, misattribution, suggestibility, bias, and persistence. I recognise myself in several categories.

The past me is gone and as soon as I reflect I am creating a fiction by interpretation. So that truth is flawed. The future me is a fiction with all the substance of a daydream. However beautiful, a prediction predicated on presumed progress is faulty. My current self, the one typing this distracted by goulash in the kitchen, crap on the T.V., beer at my side and unfinished paintings on the easel- is an unreliable witness of the present subverted by cognitive dissonance of brain fog- a symptom of M.E. and of me generally.

So where does truth reside- past, present, future, inside my head, outside in a world I perceive through suspicious eyes?

The quote hints at the evidence. My life lived, exhibits artefacts. The work I leave behind, the arty-fictions that constitute my legacy, is forensic evidence of painterly events that occurred in time. I had never considered my life or my paintings as “texts” to be read, understood, forgotten or fetishised.

So it is at this time in my studies, in this maelstrom ( anagram = male storm) of self-doubt, staring at Assignment four of Level 3 Major Project, that I am faced again with the requirement to write an artistic statement. One that; “captures the essential rationale of that process and informs the reader of your intentions and outcomes.” (Painting 3 Major Project p.46)

I gave it a go and you can read it here.

Freeman suggests that truth resides in the dialogic space ( dialogue, two- people talking?- the gap in your opinion and mine) of interpretation itself and so, with your permission, I would like to share my Assignment 4 submission and ruminate upon lessons I might learn about myself. By presenting it to you for critique, I hope to open up that dialogic space and perhaps generate debate in the comment boxes below.


Upon reflection, ironically, it is my very doubtfulness, my problem of indecision, my frequent episodes of stasis, that is actually the fuel for my creative engine. The catalyst of the chemical reaction that is my productivity. The disparity of my work matches the duality of my mind- and it was there all the time. The double-minded man is unstable in all his ways is reflected in the unstable structure that is Aidymandias.
Aidy Fixee

This pun meaning a returning motif. I felt the multiple mouths at a time when I was conscious about finding my voice was particularly salient. Again a precarious structure perhaps symbolising doubt about my artistic practises.
Homo Eclectus

I felt I was the product of societal and cultural influences. A self-portrait as a collection of influences illustrating my belief that we are all socially constructed. The misshapen figure is hollow-headed and I wonder about its appearance when I am questioning the intellectual rigour of my artistic statement.
Right-minded individuals

I suspect this is about being open-minded about influences and questioning if my heart is in the right place. I am aware that my process is about exposing unconscious states through symbolic images. This is the essence of understanding yourself through art therapy.
Curiously these four are united by an expansive universe. The next four were more earthly and I was aware there was a dichotomy in heaven and earth.
We are in two minds literally as we have two hemispheres to the brain – logical and intuitive – diametrically opposed.

This is evidenced in AidymusAidyma a two-faced self, like Janus, facing in opposite directions like the fish in my Piscine astrological symbol! I read Jung and agree that I, and everyone else display male and female characteristics Jung calls animus and anima. Furthermore, I exist in conscious and unconscious states.
St. Aidy

I felt I was showing a little of the pain and discomfort I endure as an M.E. sufferer in this work. It embodies my fascination for entropy through the iconography of religious relic and archaeological artefact.
Shaidy Character

Again the skeletal nods to my entropy fascination with a direct reference to being stalked by the finality and inevitability of death- the shaded and strangely cruciform figure held back by a humerus bone.

My little primitive self, defending his right to daydream.
May I encourage you by saying that the answer to who you are artistically – your voice – is inside you right now. The studies we undergo, are a long term process of refinement; and self-reflection is the furnace though which the artistic self is forged. Truth is forged!
Perhaps the most fully resolved a work can be lies in its incompleteness? Perhaps the natural state of the artist is also to be incomplete wherein lies the motivation to continue to create?
A logical in-conclusion.

Posted by author: Adrian Eaton
Share this post:

3 thoughts on “Confessions of an art student: Part 5

  • Two reflections: 1. your images show beautifully something that nobody can doubt which is that we are all flawed human beings, inside and out.
    2. in the philosophy of wabi-sabi, it is precisely those imperfections which are considered beautiful, to see that singular beauty in what may initially look decrepit and ugly, to realise the transience of things and thoughts, to accept things as they are without having to ‘improve’ them – making them sleek and shiny. I hope that helps.

    • Yes I really like how you are reading them. Wabi sabi, beauty in the imperfect and incomplete really appeals to me. Now, you make me wonder about the right amount of incompleteness. For me, due to my problems with energy, enough is sufficient and if I could get away with less- I would.

  • One thing first on my mind is vulnerability, which in a ‘perfect’ world of ‘forged’ beauty and surface, is less appreciated. Vanity is another term that I find resonating with your work for several reasons: it relates to vanitas, the ephemeral nature of humans, it relates to aesthetics in and through art, and, if one considers aesthetics as the realm of beauty, to vanity (a term nowadays mis-used, my reading).
    Very much a narrative of self-perception, subjectively true for sure, because it matters to you. It opens up for further ‘reading’, reading through and into what may lead to interpretation.
    I find the title of your article series very insightful: ‘Confessions’ – what I personally would associate loosely to the ‘Confessiones Augustinus’ 😉
    I fully agree with Anna related to ‘wabi sabi’, imperfections as – for me – the contemporary response to the ‘perfect’ world. Feeling very close to it.
    One comment on art therapy and symbolic images: This is a rather psychoanalytical perspective relating to C.G.Jung. As an art therapist myself with focus on painting therapy I would not necessarily agree with that point. I am not working with symbolic meaning of images in my practice.
    Overall, I can see two other aspects. A naturalist and transcendental perspective (archelogical, earth colors), thinking about R. W. Emerson. And a binary structual approach relating to R. Jackobson with binary perception of the world as embedded in our consciousness.
    Exciting article series to read and to follow!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

> Next Post Get it shared
< Previous Post Questing your plot
Back to blog listings