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Life's too short

Stephen Hornsby-Smith

Someone said life is too short to be'playing a game of chicken whilst being swotted like a fly'. But isn't that how unforgiving the commercial Artist 's world is? In all walks of life you have to read minds, mend fences and not burn bridges, and oscillate from being in full diplomatic mode to heading a full-scale hunt to ensnare prey. When does anyone get relief from 'pristine Switzerland' to 'the backstreets of Rio'? For me it's my Painting.Originally I painted fierce wild animals, then their habitats and recently to painting wildernesses that are equally ferocious and unforgiving where mancannot survive unless he adapts radically to hostile terrain.Ranulph Fienes(the polar explorer) lost fingers to frostbite in a matter of seconds inspite of years of coping with such Polar conditions. That is all it takes for the Artist who might get 'type cast' by going off-piste for a single piece of work. It could take him/her years to recover their reputation, but in the mean time he/she has to adapt. I find extremes in landscape, atmosphere, conditions to both fascinate and horrify me, and I have developed and experienced conflict of extremes on canvas. Moderate and tolerable mean domesticated and passive to me. Hence when I paint 3D animal objects i find myself undermining reasonableness and respectability, by heterogenious shapes and patterns that I paint on any sychophantic sentimental 'puppy' - they might be made of 'plastic' but once I've finished with them they are confrontational and animated.

Man has overcompensated in his fixation on fear of adaptability and has replaced it with convenience. he has concealed and sublimated 'heroic survival instincts with an emasculated 'gated community' that removes any requirement for the individual. like the African masks that I've 'restored' in my own way from the pitiable state of Trash left in the Charity shops, I believe one can transform one's environmental conditions and reverse the juggernaut of ideology, human decay and social mediocrity that sugar-coats a society that is no longer one of freedom but is one of guilt, duty, and personal unhappiness. Our Westernised, flabby ignorance of human potential is truly a pale shadow ghosting into virtual realities that replicate

pseudo 'war games at the touch of ones own computer console(?). There is an issue of addiction and dependency on such computer icons of our ebbing grip on reality.

I think mankind has to evolve further than his front room.We will have to regain our full mammoiian instincts to fully understand the Universe around us, to retain our social habits, rid ourselves of all superfluous consumer attempts to replace our true raison d'etre.. Like a South African farmer I met when working with his son in an Art Therapy class I helped with, we don't need a watch or cell phone we need the seasons and the sun to keep our time. I'd like to think that after almost 29 years of Painting the various changes and adapting to different conditions and influences, that I can keep time based on a body of work that I've done. I have learnt however, that I've had to make the sun shine and not the other way round, and that is the sum part of my contribution.

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