This is a painting I did at the weekend based on photos I took at the STUC march & Rally 23rd October 2010 against proposed government cuts. Its about 44 x 34 cm acrylic on paper. It was a pretty exhausting process, as these are real people who I work with the pressure was on to capture the photo properly, to capture the mood- a moment in time.
When I usually paint firefighters they are done fairly anonymously, the uniform and job gives us a common purpose.In the eye of the spectator we become a symbol, something much bigger than the individual, defined by our role and responsibility to others and to each other.
A fleeting moment in time can tell many stories. A camera can capture some of this, prehaps freezing a second that the eye missed. A frozen image also takes on its own romanticised idealism. a family picnic years later where we remember the laughter and forget the arguing and sandy sandwiches. I want to avoid Romanticising the fire fighting scenes I paint, painting reality- not weeping angels and big eyed puppies. However any captured image will become something different to each viewer, laying their own stories upon the subject. To paint an image removes it further from a photo, it takes time to draw out the colours, shapes, mood- it tells the viewer that this scene means something, they are obliged to take the time to work it out. Those artists who take everyday objects and place them in galleries are in a way doing the same thing, demanding that we look again with fresh eyes- its the artists job.
I never wanted to be an observer in life, always to participate fully, yet of course an artists role is to always observe- then capture, create, communicate. I was very proud to walk under that banner that day with those men ( and wonderful women just off camera ). I hope this painting gets a little of that. I hope the government backs down on its cut backs. I hope to do this job a while yet & be part of more special moments in time. Be part of something bigger than the individual.