Jon Adams on the history of the geological themes in his work / 4 March 2011
I am writing this on the train to Victoria with a long day ahead. The sun is just starting to burn through the fog, relegating it to a thin veil of mist - so I am hopefully of seeing the ‘hill’ where the latest line of my work can trace its evolution. (Having just passed through Barnham station and been reminded that my ‘Dream’ is still there, left circa 2008)
Back In 08/09, when I was artist with a ‘rail company’ here in the South for my ‘Art Plus’ award it involved Mapping peoples journeys so I was on the Victoria train at least once a week. There was always one spot on the journey that intrigued me, just before Horsham. It was a small hill (and I mean small) with a bench seat facing away from the track on top, which always remained empty. It seemed very exposed and sometimes was tipped up on end or on its side but always was ‘people absent’ and empty.
Then one evening returning from London as we flashed past I caught a glimpse of a solitary goose by the bench, the first ever sign of life. It was silhouetted against a red sky of a setting sun it appeared exposed and very vulnerable which struck a ‘visual chord’ as it mirrored how i was feeling at the time. So for the rest of the Journey I wrote and rewrote ‘Goose on the hill’ - which started a new round of poetry and reflection inspiring an exhibition theme. This reflection and the mapping made me look at my past in an alternate way. (A solitary pigeon watched the train pass this morning but its empty again for the return journey).
It was not long after that I was invited to show at Pallant House Gallery in the print room and foyer space. Almost on the spur of the moment when asked what I would like to show I said a ‘geological autobiography’ filling the glass cases – museum fashion. That was two and half years ago and that autobiographical geological theme seems to have taken over the work I have done since. Not that I am complaining. I studied geology at University after the problems and bullying I had at school about my undiagnosed dyslexia and drawing. I had always had two loves – drawing and the landscape and what could be found within it. (Collecting and aspergers seem to be hand in glove) and what was the show to be called? ‘Goose on the Hill’ and it ran for 6 weeks in November 2009.
The geological themes then carried forward into my application for Creative Campus Initiative – ‘sound from stone’ working with Candoco’s visit to the New Theatre Royal in Portsmouth and I dared to go and chat to the Geology school at the University finding new friendships and partners. This process was hard as the geology represented an ‘alternate possibility’ perhaps in a mirrored universe’. After I left university rather than a year on an oil rig, I chose the illustration route and jumped ship back to my ‘artist’s Dream’ spoken out loud at the age of 6. I have always wondered but never regretted where I would be if I had either gone to Art College or carried on the geology instead.
Also at this time,(late 2009) the possibility of a commission to creative evaluate Accentuate, Deaf and disabled artists involvement within the wider Cultural Olympiad (South East) and geological metaphor became a real possibility. From this has come ‘Look about’ – which is just getting stuck into its research and gathering phase now. Briefly the project sees me partnering with the British Geological Survey, the two main outcomes, a ‘geological map and memoir’ of the ‘landscape’ in early 2013 and ‘Transmission’ a digital screen based accumulative artwork opening with Artsway, another partner, in the summer. Look about is supported by Arts Council England through GFTA, Accentuate, and the University of Portsmouth. There will be more to come on DAO soon as to how you can engage with ‘Look about in the run up to 2012’.
So my life seems to be heading in a completely different direction from that imagined in 2008 as other science & arts projects and possibilities are starting to develop to run alongside and beyond ‘Look about’. All of this from just harmlessly ‘look’ out of a window of a train one evening with an ‘accidental glimpse’ of something quite ordinary. Next time you are travelling on a train, take a ‘look outside’- you never know where it may take you.