In my practical work I have often been interested in communicating ideas around social well-being through the use of recognizable symbols. I also use my own experiences as a source of inspiration, but try to use ideas which could be cross-transferable to individuals. Using objects, images and symbols I aim to create a narrative open to interpretation but which the viewer could perhaps empathize or find some familiarity within the work.
In terms of perception and objects, I had come across something which had created a narrative within my mind and brought about uncomfortable memories of my adolescent school days. The ‘phenomenon’ in question was a pair of plimsolls (black trainer shoes) hanging from a tree that I had noticed over the past two years when walking my daughter to school. For some reason and perhaps because of my own experiences, my perception of these plimsolls gave me a troublesome feeling in the pit of my stomach. On witnessing these abandoned shoes I built up a narrative in my head that they had got there, through some kind of bullying incident between school children. That perhaps a group of ‘popular’ kids had stolen the shoes from a vulnerable classmate and lobbed them in the tree for a laugh – much to the dismay of the shoe-less child. I, of course cannot be sure of how these shoes had got in the tree and for all I knew, someone could have chucked their own shoes in the tree in the hope that their parents would buy them a new pair. Nevertheless, I could not help feeling some sense of empathetic trauma every time I passed the tree.
I did not particularly enjoy my years at secondary school and was never one of the popular kids. I was also subjected to bullying because of my religious upbringing which made me an easy target for prejudice and harassment.
With this in mind, I felt I could use this image in my practical work because of the strong effect it had had on me and perhaps it could potentially have some relevance to other people too.