Ground: "Where Are We Now?"
Size: 91 x 91 x 7 cm
Materials: Linseed oil, encaustic wax, natural earth pigment & gesso on canvas & board
Status: Private Collection
This work was conceived in 2015 and was shortlisted for the Greater Manchester Art Prize 2016. It alludes to the title of a song written & performed by David Bowie.
The title is a direct reference to the song that has been interpreted as a melancholic contemplation on the gentrification of the Mitte district and the urban development of what was once a bastion of creativity and anti-capitalism in Berlin.The video for the song “Where are we now?” was a collaboration between David Bowie and artist Tony Oursler. It travels metaphorically and literally through time, referencing the fall of the Berlin Wall, the graffiti ridden Tacheles that housed a collection of squats and artists studios; the Bundestag cobbles in the road mark the former route of the wall. Around the corner from Potsdamer Platz was the Hanse studios where Bowie made some of his most famous recordings.
In the creation of this work I was mindful of the parallels between Berlin and Greater Manchester. I have recently moved to a new studio at Islington Mill in Salford, Greater Manchester. I have moved spaces four times in the last seven years due to being displaced as a result of the ongoing developments in the city. There is an ever present ominous shadow of cranes, building works, high rise apartments, and office blocks, some completed and many others in construction. I contemplate the parallels between Berlin and Manchester and I’m reminded that the rise of the Northern Powerhouse, perceived to be beneficial to the economy, provides a challenging threat to the collection of affordable artists studios and creative communities in Greater Manchester.
Evoking associating references of control and chance, alluding to a modernist aesthetic yet referencing a sense of history and time: The painting is a metaphor and a literal interpretation of ‘Ground'... The grid references the longitude and latitude of the earth. The encaustic wax burned into the surface of the cracked gesso holds the broken earth in suspension. The consequence is an appearance of dirt, smog and charred earth that abstractly alludes to the history of the city and the remnants of the industrial revolution.
Ground: "Where are We Now?" Reference: Article by Helen Pidd The Guardian (8/1/2013)
Helen Pidd is North of England editor of the Guardian and spent 2011 in Germany as Berlin correspondent.
Image 1, 2 & 3 | Alan Ward
Image 2 & 3 | Detail
Image 3 | The stages of making