It’s not easy. My clients are generally developers and city councils. This means it is necessary for me to understand the business protocols of such organisations, ‘to talk the talk and walk the walk’ in order to have my proposal selected, approved and realised without compromising it beyond recognition. It can be a daunting prospect, but I have the benefit of a previous career in the corporate world. Even so, the premises for my artistic vision are often outside the experience of clients who must make a leap of faith to support them. Fortunately there is usually an art consultant employed by the client to facilitate the process, the contract negotiations, and the ongoing relations between me, the client and other authorities. However, I must remain aware throughout of what I don’t know and where to get independent advice on legal and administrative, as well as technical matters. That’s not to mention developing and pitching for new opportunities in case the current one falls in a heap.
All this must be waded through before I can get to my primary focus: the design, production and installation of the artwork. My work often involves moving parts and lighting incorporated into multiple elements spread across a site. As a consequence the development process becomes one of sifting through advice from various technical experts, fabricators and suppliers, each with their own version of the best way to do something. Additionally each work and site is unique, so resolution is also a matter of consulting and negotiating with authorities to narrow down the options. For me the process is an education every time, framed by aesthetic priorities and the possibility of ‘left field’ solutions.
There is a romantic notion of the artist locked away in a chilly studio, feverishly churning out masterpieces that go unrecognised until after their death. In my mind this is not the most effective way to communicate my vision to the world. There seems no point in making the work if people don’t see it. The public arena is the crucial test that can transmute an artwork into a touchstone for society. It is this potential to inspire that drives me. I believe art gives meaning to our lives by distilling the essence of the world around us and presenting it back to us in breathtaking ways. It gives us an opportunity to see things differently, to be elevated out of the everyday. So (despite this simple aim frequently being obscured by a lengthy, complicated and demanding process) that’s why I keep doing it.