Six years ago nearly all time spent neither at work, or traveling to the studio I held, was spent working on a piece of work called The Alpha Forest, then with the aim of showcasing it in a empty-shop art-initiative in Barnsley centre called ‘Emergence’. In 2009 before the exhaustion(s) of austerity politics, these initiatives really caught the imagination of many artists including myself.
In the gaps between making this 10 foot long drawing, mainly on trains and in cafes, I was reading like I had never read before, developing an understanding of the way the world worked that was so raw that it had a gravitational pull dragging all conversations into a friendship-damaging whirlpool concentrated on the two ‘C’s’; capitalism and climate change. During this time of the rawness of a developing worldview I made a illustration/story-piece called ‘I am Here’.
I was pretty obsessed with the idea of walls during this period. Mainly invisible ones, psychological ones; ones made using (what I came to know as) ‘soft power’. This trajectory formed the second seminal piece of MY 2009, called Looking For Truth. I was mentally-fucking drained at the end of this year, and an inevitable softening of that initial rawness slowly ensued.
I am Here never ended up being shown in the Emergence exhibition, I don’t remember the reasons (and I can’t remember whether I showed it anywhere to be honest). The work is very direct, to the point where when I showed it to a friend, mildly drunk, outside the Polish Club in Barnsley he said “fuck me, Ledge! Have you turned into Kim Jong Il?” – I’d like to think time has proven that not to be the case! Yet, even if I wouldn’t make a storyboard so direct in its message today, I still feel the same. In fact I feel it would probably have more of a receptive audience in 2015. So here it is:
I am Here (2009)