I read a book called ‘The Activist’ by Alec Connon in which the protagonist devotes his life to the protection of the environment – specifically whales in Antarctica from Japanese whalers. The novel explores what it means to be an activist, sacrificing personal comfort for a cause. It made me think about what I want to achieve in my life and whether I should be devoting my time to helping prevent the impending environmental apocalypse rather than furthering my own individual career. In theory, I certainly value the planet over a nice house and stable job.
So then I paint this portrait because I realise that whatever I value in theory is never powerful enough to get me to deviate from the trajectory my life is on. Because now, rather than applying to study a biological science so I can learn how to make a difference, I’m symbolising the dying planet and my scuppered hopes using a dead dove and painting myself falling, or fallen, helpless to do anything and paralysed by a weakness I can’t describe. Then I’ve temporarily exorcized the guilt into art, and, selfishly, I’m able to ignore the destruction we are wreaking across the globe.