Fine Art - New Beginnings: 1972 (N.F.S.)

As a Fine Art student at the University of Exeter 1971-74 I needed to find a new means of making images that had not been part of my earlier Graphic training:  one that related to my commitment to political change.

I was at this stage a member of the Workers Revolutionary Party and influenced by Russian Constructivism and Italian Futurism. Sociological concerns became more significant and informed my new Fine Art practice. Marxism considered social life to be holistic with individuals independently contributing a decisive role. All material and economic relationships had to be defined through ‘work’ and class divisions; because work has been created specifically by a class ‘member’ it needed to be defined primarily in class terms. This meant that a Marxist producer or critic must firstly analyse the ‘content’ of any given work, and the social reality to which the work gives expression. So the ‘form’ of the work would have to be secondary; it would also be considered to be expressive of the content and its relationship to other works of a similar genre. But other factors such as  ‘psychological’ conditioning of the artist / author were  significant; as were the cultural heritage and the material development within society.

The resulting artwork was deemed successful only if the form of it is in direct accord to the content. The audiencing of the work was also significant: who is the work directed at and what is to be gained from it by the spectator? Art Practice suggested a two way process where ‘metaphor’ rules as follows: the art work or literature must not have been expressed previously – so no repetition of ideas and no art ‘for art’s sake’ need be evident- it had, above all, to definitively not be simply ‘craft’ since it must be original and unique.The lust for ‘formal novelty’ must not be succumbed to and the ethos of  ‘the emperors new clothes’ was seen to be non-existent, from this specific aesthetic viewpoint. Criticism that was bound up with bourgeois decadence in [Western] culture sought to dismiss a work via its formal qualities alone, since the drive and the' raison d'etre' of the production was always towards increased levels of 'pure craftsmanship' that was prized above a statement of 'content'. In this way these ideas were already Post -Modern. These ideas, however, dominated my work only at this time.

Wrestling figures against a man-made background.