My family have been in Africa for 12 generations – over 450 years…We have now left…..and a vast and ancient land now nourishes our existence. What is this place? How does it work? What of its stories? What is it’s raison d’etre? Can the songs of 2,000 generations be felt… accessed….honoured?
These are the feelings that have occupied me over the past 5 years (I have been in Australia for 12 years now) since I put paid to making (purely photographic) landscape images that had, as their motivation, only beauty and sentiment. My expression has moved in response to an inner need to be more full, encompassing a larger self – one that might engage this enormous place….and photography alone could no longer stand up to the task.
So a name change (from Clayton Hairs to Clayton John) was the result – signifying (to myself as to anyone else) this desire to engage anew…and with it came a change of the tools used to express. Now encaustic and cold wax, the earth of the location I was witness to, and plaster, acrylics and oils allowed undulations, flows and complexity that I found present in the Australian landscape.
My technique involves layering photographic imagery one upon another (sometimes in-camera, sometimes not) such that the sum of the parts, at an intuitive level, surmounts the individual elements. Serendipity is found in this practice, altering a craft skill (photography) from one often dictated by complete control towards one where chance, possibility and serendipity might carry the work forward. The created image is Giclee´ printed to Washi (mulberry pith) media. I then work into the image with wax (hot and cold) and plaster and in the process introduce texture and tone which, I feel, moves a viewer toward a more tactile (possibly mystical?) experience in a manner which a straightforward print might never allow.