When I first saw Edd’s piece, Whilst I Breathe, I Hope, a shiver went down my spine. I knew this child and I knew the kind of world he/she inhabited – it was not a nice place. It was a place of mania, fantasy, denial and unreality. It was a place where everything was rosy and no one could see beyond the rims of their rose-tinted glasses, and if forced to, a belligerent, stubborn and an aggressive broiling silence set in. It was the place where I grew up. Admittedly, that is my own reading of Edd’s work, but I was interested to hear Edd’s description of Whilst I Breathe, I Hope as “a Disneyesque, hyper real child-like happiness of senseless hope…” I know what he means; I come from the land of Disney.
Jane Boyer: Your piece Whilst I Breathe, I Hope, on face value communicates hope and a positive outlook. However, looking deeper, it suggests a positiveness which borders on mania and presents a conformity which denies the acceptance of reality; a blinkered view which would become violent if challenged. What message is in the work for you?
Edd Pearman: A Disneyesque, hyper real child-like happiness of senseless hope, wonderment and joy, beautifully naive and hopelessly unaware of the impending reality of the journey to adulthood that awaits.
JB: Can you describe the process in creating your pieces? Your work uses digital technology but they are very painterly. What is behind that relationship of paint and the digital and how do you choose your imagery?
EP: My process has always begun with collage. I am interested in taking elements from found images or my original photographs and re-contextualising them. The imagery that I use is often figurative because a key interest of mine is the human emotional state. Lately I’ve been using Photoshop to repaint my collages, to homogenise the sometimes eclectic imagery. I feel that a painted surface offers its own context; it is a suggestive format, one that allows people to read the artwork in a certain way. I am recreating the medium of paint as a motif in itself. I am not a painter, however, these are paintings. I have become an adept computer user partly because in the real world I am not a dextrous artist.
JB: What have been some of the main influences on your work?
EP: Duality has a strong influence throughout my work, each work maintains a two-fold characteristic in its content i.e. Humour and horror, life and death, hope and despair. All initially appear to embody one intention, yet possess in equal measure, opposite qualities.
JB: Your “works utilize uniforms from national organizations as reference; for example, St. John’s Ambulance, Boys Scouts, Salvation Army etc. Through [the] depiction of them as mostly solitary figures outside of their individual institutional contexts one sees the disbanded loners as suddenly melancholy, human and vulnerable. In other pieces, [you] subvert the often-celebrated cool precision that uniforms tend to imply in order to suggest the other facets associated with them, chaotic, brutal or lethal.” This quote from your artist statement suggests that you are ‘subverting’, to use your word, the power, strength and status represented by uniforms as well as the glamour and sex appeal associated with uniforms and those who wear them. What does a uniform represent for you?
EP: Uniforms are dehumanising. All efforts to look individual are squashed, psychologically removing one’s identity in favour of a unified group, at once protecting the individual amongst a sea of sameness but also providing one’s enemies with one huge target. Like a flock of birds or a school of fish, there is safety in numbers, but one is not safe. My purpose is to bring the focus back onto the individual within the group, and what a lonely situation it is to be in.
JB: Isolation is a major theme in your work, are we more isolated now or less so? Do you feel we experience a different kind of isolation?
EP: Our networks have been able to grow to unprecedented levels. We can send a message which will reach more people than we ever imagined. Society has gone viral. This all leads to a false sense of togetherness. We know so many yet can rely on so few.
I’ve asked the artists to share a list of books they find informative for their practice. Follow the links here or visit the Bookshop to see all the books suggested so far. We hope you will see something inspiring for your own interests. Your book purchase made through This ‘Me’ of Mine will help raise funds for the project.