This group of sculptures continues with themes established in my previous body of work.I hadn’t finished yet. I suppose you never do.

During hard lock-down and at the onset of the pandemic I set up a studio at home. Although historically most of my work metaphorically aims satirical arrows at perceived ills in society, and while this is certainly cathartic, I have only recently worked out that the process of making is independently therapeutic. I am a slow learner. I just need to keep busy to stay sane. I titled the show LIMBO. The state of us then.

Where before my animal sculptures might symbolically mock predators, policemen, politicians, oligarchs, sycophants, the corrupted and the like… during lock-down I felt impelled to look closer to home for my subject matter. My interests had been shifting from perpetrators to people and I had been wanting to transition from an accusatory position to one that is more compassionate and empathetic. Something intimate and kinder. Not exclusively though…I remain a stone thrower at heart.

I have been researching the small Japanese Netsuke kimono fasteners for a while. Deliciously refined and paired down decorative mini sculptures carved in stone, wood, or ivory. Sometimes cast into metals and mostly of animals. In my inquiries I came across the Japanese tradition of placing a to- scale wooden sculpture of a rabbit looking heavenwards outside houses and businesses as charms that might bring prosperity, good luck, and fertility.

This seemed like a good place to kick off my lock-down therapy, so I started by making small symbolic portraits of the four of us at home as animals. My partner, our two young boys and myself. We have an odd collection of small animal sculptures and toys around the house. These inspired. As do the Ghanaian Asante king’s linguist’s staffs: exquisitely carved wooden figurative finials, finished in gold leaf, that describe through visual proverbs each king’s strengths and visions.

Sanell loves rabbits and we certainly needed the good fortune, so she was portrayed as a rabbit. Lo is wise beyond his years and was represented as an owl. Kai as a mischievous monkey. All three are looking to the heavens for guidance or as witnesses to an impending calamity. I hold my hands and look down anxiously as a monkey and a father. In hope and in fear.

These first four seemed to resonate effectively…so I extended the series, describing the intimacy and anxiety of isolation and of social separation that has been a universally shared experience and somehow paradoxically binds humanity together. Hopefully.

What I thought I had produced was a single- issue body of work. A response to the pandemic reflecting our mutual fears. A fragile tenderness. Our collective breath had been held for a few

However, on seeing the works installed post covid it seemed a broader reading was possible. Implicit rather than explicit. We are currently gripped by uncertainties; global warming, nationalism, xenophobia, a failed state, the refugee crisis, the rise of populist right-wing agendas, wars, genocide…and more. These weigh heavily on our ‘families’.

The new works extend the themes of familial intimacies and brooding contemplation. They describe a world of trepidation and vulnerability. Melancholic by default.

Hopeless and hopeful.