Exhibit: The Oppression of Play
Posted 6th January 2017

The concept of "play" is often strongly associated with children and yet an element of play underpins every creative discipline, through which artists experiment and develop new ideas into a finished concept. Despite the positive value of play within art, there is quite a prevalent stigma within society towards artistic individuals that haven't earned a fortune or become famed for their work. Such stigma generally embodies a demeaning attitude towards artists and their efforts which are deemed by some to be unimportant and merely "playing about".

I have spoken to many artists over the years who's views alongside my own reading have brought me to a conclusion that such an oppressive attitude towards artistic expression is widely present within society. This art series I have created represents an internal monologue for an artist as they consider "should I create?", "Perhaps I need to fall in line?", "Why do these artistic thoughts still haunt me?".

Each of the 6 abstract images featured in "The oppression of play" utilise building blocks as a metaphor for creativity, and are representative of the struggle undertaken by most artists as they deliberate about whether to bring their ideas to life or consign them to the back of their mind.

To bring this concept to life I have worked with published model Jenny James, utilising an "art nude" format to mirror another aspect our innocence which is often time oppressed by society, whilst enhancing the format with lighting that provides rich colours to evoke an essence of a renaissance oil painting. A blue light also permeates each image in representation of the creative spirit.
Please click the thumbnails below to view:
The Background

In 2016 I was behind the scenes at Hull's festival "Humber Street Sesh", during which I entered into a conversation with the member of an established brass band from London. We discussed the obstacles and pitfalls of choosing the life of an artist, for which he quite brilliantly highlighted the importance of play within our lifetime.

As children most of us will have spent time enacting our own stories of heroes, villains, life, and fantasy. I am sure that many of us will have built a variety of creatively wild, wacky, and amazing creations from our building blocks. And yet, I am sure that many people will have banished their toys to some other place during their teenage years, at around the same time that the importance of following a path of education into a preconceived employment path were strongly impressed upon to most of us.

However, artists of all types often embrace the element of play, and the freedom of imagination which progresses them on their creative journey towards bringing new experiences to life. Without such "play", we would not have been able to journey to Hogwarts with Harry, Without "play" Bach's symphonies would never have enriched the lives of many, and Walt Disney would never have brought such magic to the world. There have been artists throughout the history of the world that have touched the lives of so many, dating as far back as the cave paintings of our ancestors.

Art enriches our lives both as a product that we can consume, and as an expressive form that brings an indescribable energy from within us. The development of artistic skills can also forge great amounts of discipline and focus, that can be beneficial to many. Art can bring people together in mutual enjoyment of creativity and art appreciation. And, whilst financial awareness is of course necessary to provide a stable lifestyle, it is worth noting that many great artists throughout history lived in abstract poverty, and yet they are now held in high esteem. let us not wait a few hundred years to celebrate the creative energy of the artists living now, and instead push for greater respect for all artistic practices and the play that they embody.