Blog: Personal

Touching Happiness

A continuation of my personal work with artist Echo Morgan. Shot at the international action art festival Guangzhou Live, at the YouYou Contemporary Art Centre in the art district of Xiaozhou cun.

Root Print

In March and April this year I travel to China to work on a personal documentary project called ‘Root Print’ with Chinese artist Echo Morgan. I will be publishing this work in 2014 as a book and limited edition newspaper ahead of ‘Photo Shanghai’.

Camouflage

Goldfish

Visible Invisible

Visible Invisible is on the surface a voyage into the latent energy of the Welsh night.
Stuck somewhere between abstract and landscape, it is an attempt to harness that which doesn’t exist, to capture something from nothing, to reveal something new for the first time.
It is also a journey into my roots, a vessel to negate my solitude tendencies, and an antidote to my melancholia.
Visible Invisible is work in progress.

Born China, Bone China

Very very happy that one of Echo Morgan and my collaborations has been selected as the poster image for the Parallax Art Fair.

Bridgend County

Bridgend County is an ongoing personal project.

On March 7th 1972 Gaynor Anne Baker, a Swansea jack, gave birth to me, her second Son, James Roland Baker, at home: 17 Moreland Road, Bridgend, Wales. My father, James Leonard Baker, a Cardiff lad, brought up in the school of hard knocks, was an engineer and metallurgist working in the steel mill at Port Talbot.
Before my second birthday we moved away from Wales with my fathers work but a love affair with my homeland has never been diminished. Rugby aged seven, Joes ice cream, crazy aunts and frequent visits to a large Welsh family (mostly based in Swansea) were my roots.
Perhaps it was strange then to find myself returning to Bridgend for the first time on the 29th June 2012 at Forty years old. And even stranger still to find myself, in tears, writing a thank you letter to a young woman whoem I had never met. She had taken her own life in 2007.

‘… I know little about you, very little,
and yet you brought me to this place with hope.
I am part of your story, your journey, as you are mine.
I can’t bring any sense or meaning to what happened.
It’s strange to write to the dead, I don’t believe in God.
But here I am thinking of you, you whoem I don’t know,
and will never know.
Is it fantasy to say I came here for a reason?
Will I do justice to your memory?
Will I be able to help?
You have given me leads, your guidance is noted.
A course of action is beginning to emerge,
Thank you.’

I traced the steps of many young people that day and the next. I wrote when I could. They guided me from the power of the sea crashing home in Porthcawl, through the dimly lit hope surrounding the estates of Cefn Glass, and up into the engine of an empire, history spitting beauty as mottled light washed through the Valleys. Measteg, Cymmer, Blaengwynfi, Nant-y-moel, Bettws, Pontycymer, Blaengarw all whispered uneasy.

‘Oh what will you give me
Say the sad bells of Rhymney
Is there hope for the future,
Cry the bells of Merthyr
Who made the mine owner
Say the black bells of Rhondda
And robbed the miner
Cry the grim bells of Blaina’
Idris Davies
An extract from Bells of Rhymney from his 1938 Gwalia Deserta (meaning literally “Wasteland of Wales”)

Balls of Steel

Warrior Exhibition

Warrior 勇士

My portraits of multi media fine artist Echo Morgan may be considered as photographic interventions which occur before, during or after her Live – or Performance – Art.

Using body, voice and gesture she invites the viewer to “visit my dark childhood memory, to witness the loss of my first marriage and share my curiosity as a cross-cultured young Chinese woman.”

Sometimes Echo’s words are scripted and my lighting and method carefully considered and, on occasion, we both explore improvisation within the constructed event.

To view the full selection of works to date please click on the ‘Performative Body’ link under Personal work on my main website.

Be inside of the Vase

 

With silent strength a tiny naked figure walks out of the darkness and through the small crowd. She is painted white with shards of blue. Blurring in the dim light, she circles, quiet envelopes the at once enchanted room.

For a moment I too fall under her spell.

Reflex lifts my camera and now behind the protection of its elements my composure returns.

I am knowingly part of this plot and as the story unfolds I play my part. I am boyfriend and helpless protector, I am a co-conspirator tasked with documenting as the magic unfold.

I have seen so many people crying during Echo’s performances. She visits painful places of her past, from her childhood and China floods out. Her stories are hard and sometimes brutal, their truth always draws you in.

The performance, ‘Be the Inside of the Vase’ was divided into two parts and addressed the sexually political and starkly contrasting statements made by her parents.

“Women should be like vase, smooth, decorative and empty inside! ”

“Don’t be a vase, pretty but empty inside, be the inside, be the quality!”

I have heard this song before but never like this. Echo’s voice quivers and shakes as another balloon explodes in her face, a direct hit.  Unease floods from the neon pools.

With tears running down their faces two friends console each other at Echo’s pain, her sadness and misfortune.

I feel aside from this, we have a strategy.  This is a performance where the pain is honest and true but it’s home is elsewhere.  ­­

 

http://www.echomorganart.com/