ARTIST STATEMENT (more sculpture images below)
PIBROCHS FOR THE ALCHEMISTS
Scarcely long enough to be a manifesto, this is quite short enough to be rather simplistic, but at least it will not offend the Randists amongst us - to any great degree.
The growth and preservation of societies might seem to be predicated on two things. Firstly, a cohesive vision/philosophy/religion which supports each individual sufficiently enough to persuade them to work and die for the community as a whole. Secondly, but by no means in that order, leaders who can expound these theories in convincing terms. This implies individuals with a high degree of ego, but preferably sufficient common sense that they do not elevate themselves too far in front of their followers when the saber toothed hordes attack!
Industry, banking, the stock exchange and politics are all part of a system which has made us what we are, for better and worse, for comfort and health, - and for a dreaming that extends far beyond the family hearth. We wrap and justify these activities in the cloak of liberty and freedom, but cloaks are also a wonderful camouflage for the details within. Liberty, however, is not of necessity a fellow traveler with hedonism, nor freedom a licence to employ excess and indifference as a prophylactic against the realities of others. Those precious few who thrive on self importance might remind themselves that their soapbox rides on the shoulders of the very many to whom they are so indifferent.
In reality the success of individuals is measured in terms of the success of their society as a whole. When the divisions between rich and poor become extreme and apparent societies will begin to fall apart. Where the liquidity of society in general no longer exists to support both services and a modicum of indulgences for all, entropy ensues. And, of course, industrial production and marketing of these very services usually support the wealthier parts of society. If the purchasing power of the masses can no longer approach the standards of self indulgence that the self appointed leaders and image makers have defined as the determinants of success, societies slip towards crime, dictatorship and revolution. The roots can no longer support the flower and the whole ceases to exist. We are, after all, just a body of cells, living off and with a larger body of cells. With too much ambition, too much ego and not a little hubris we each can become the fatally important cancer!
Politically we have developed a system which is, at best, ponderous and equivocal, but also disinclined to sudden leaps of faith. It is not usually based on ideas espoused for the convenience of narrow interest groups. It is not efficient, but it usually avoids the extremes of revolution. Revolution, however worthy, is more often than not lead by arrogant and impatient messianics who assume their survival at the expense of those seduced to their cause. The grand ideas triumph over the realities of those whose economies and lives dissolve cataclysmically into oblivion. By comparison, taxes are a mild inconvenience whose collection has at least a potential for an egalitarian and functional well being.
That, if a little pretentiously, was the context of the show, given the financial debacle. Since I suspect that humour and irony are our best means of dealing with the impossible, satire is a useful weapon to make fallow the fields of desires and expectations. Humour is a great leveler of egos, and irony an antidote to the expectation of simple solutions. These pieces are a small contribution that gave me some useful occupation.
PETER THOMAS, 2010
Notes: a Pibroch is to the Gael and lover of highland pipes, an art form comparable to Bach’s sonatas for violin. The Alchemists were involved, amongst many other activities, in attempting the creation of gold from dross. It is of interest that they failed to point out to their patrons that any success in this area would have almost immediately led to the total devaluation of that element! The parallels are a little specious, but these are my pibrochs for our present day, would-be alchemists.