The Thing That Holds You Back

The Thing That Holds You Back (part 1 and 2) 2006 and 2008

Part 1 is a concrete block with a red ribbon threaded through the middle with a helium balloon tied to the end, a motor fan directing jets of air at the balloon, meaning it’s able to move to some extent but always held back ultimately. This simply represents the thing that holds us back.

We all have or have had dreams; some of us try and live them, some give up, some have more opportunities than others, a lot dependent on class and privilege. In this instance I’m interested in the creative person who longs to be free to write, paint, design, photograph, sculpt, make music, etc, but that doesn’t necessarily put food on the table so it’s left to those who can afford it, meaning society is not fairly represented.

The Thing That Holds You Back, Part 2, 2008
Leather suitcase, wooden cage and household gloss paint

Part 2, a continuation of the theme, a suitcase, ready and packed but caged, therefore unable to get to its destination. Both works were exhibited together in the inaugural Liverpool Art Prize in 2008 which I was shortlisted for along with Imogen Stidworthy (Art Prize Winner), The Singh Twins, Mary Fitzpatrick, Gareth Kemp and Emma Rodgers.

The double irony is that I made Part 2 after being notified I’d been shortlisted, but the work I’d actually been shortlisted for, Tunnel, was a site-specific large-scale outdoor installation, funded by local authorities in Suffolk and the Arts Council, which I couldn’t afford to bring to Liverpool. Plus, because it was site specific it wouldn’t have made sense anyway. I had to think of something more portable, but also felt frustrated as I knew it wasn’t the work people had voted me in on. Instead this was made, small scale, in my bedroom of a shared house where I lived at the time in Ipswich.

Feature from Liverpool Art Prize