David Clegg / Lecture

30/10/2014

I’ve got to say that this was one of my favourite lectures so far, very powerful and emotional and fantastically presented with both thought and confidence.

(David Clegg during his lecture)
(David Clegg during his lecture)

David Clegg is an artist who works with memory, illness and time as his subject, using editing, photography, sculpture and in some cases documentation. Much of his work takes place in care homes and hospitals where he works and is constantly surrounded by the elderly who suffer from illnesses such as dementia and memory loss.

Clegg started the lecture by talking about ‘memory’ and the things we remember.  That every time we talk about a memory something changes and it’s scary to think we are so unreliable and that every time we think of the memory we recreate it. Also whether we are actually remembering the memory or just a photo of the event – quite mind blowing things to think about, that did send me into state of reflection.

He continued to talk about his first memories that were very clear and vivid to him, mentioning about the smell and touch of his furniture and vinyl’s and by being gripped by repetition of any sort – these two aspects can be seen throughout his works. Clegg talked about when he first became interested in art and as a child he had a ‘mini exhibition’ which featured photos and drawings of dinosaurs and when told by his peers he was an artist it made him want to become one more!  At Art College he focused on painting but questioned himself about it so he tried sculpture but was criticised for it, so in anger he burnt it but he realised that it was deeper that the sculpture itself, it became a ‘contaminant’ and as the remnants became trod in and carried along with them it remained the same piece but changed, so he continued with this technique until he completed his BA.  After college he had various jobs including working in an art gallery for 5 years and it was here that he realised that although he didn’t like artists he wanted to be one!  Clegg had to take some time out due to family issues and then he began to work with an elderly lady doing art and crafts and it is here he began his work with memory.

Clegg then began to talk about various stories and people who he had come across who had inspired his work.  The first story was about a woman who believed people had stolen her clothes and replaced them with an old woman’s clothes, and she never saw herself as old.  The lady wanted someone to write her life story so Clegg offered but at first he found it difficult with the only information on her records was that she took tablets at 9.00 am so Clegg took it upon himself to wear a microphone and wrote notes on the various segments of information she told him about her life then he stitched it all together and after the story was completed Clegg said the woman was one of the most interesting people he had ever met, he found that she had married a famous movie star, dated an infamous murderer and was a descendant of Victor Hugo, the most famous Author who wrote ‘The Hunchback of Notre dame’. Clegg reminisced that on one particular day he wrote words, “she said” on the back of his hand, he left for dinner and came back to find that she had passed away saying that he had her last words written on the back of his hand, such a memory that really impacted on him.

(A sculpture Clegg made from the vast amount of writing he wrote for the elderly lady's biography - story above)
(A sculpture Clegg made from the vast amount of writing he wrote for the elderly lady’s biography – story above)

Clegg continued to talk about stories similar to the one above, each story was individual yet so repetitive of the situation and surroundings he was in. From listening to him speak you could see the passion he had for his job and for the people he worked with and the fact that he focused on the smallest of detail confirmed his total passion and dedication and how close this was to his heart especially the fact that he could find humour in his job albeit in reality was quite depressing to see someone actually deteriorate in front of your very eyes, felt truly amazing and very inspirational.

Overall I thought the lecture and David Clegg’s work was totally inspirational, he presented his work with passion and he had a clear admiration for the work that he actually does, something that I haven’t actually experience before in a lecture, totally refreshing.

His work was very thoughtful yet to the eye very simple but after knowing the background to each story each piece became very powerful, impacting and emotional, he drove away from creating something literal and cliché and produced pieces that were thought provoking especially using the topic like memory.

I really can’t speak highly enough of David Clegg’s lecture, a totally awe inspiring lecture, where it was apparent he had a true dedication and passion for his work, very inspirational.

 

//Images from:

1st – my own photo
2nd – http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-rE0vz_Wx5jo/T2hR7utTDEI/AAAAAAAADFY/8PAsefK4ZOE/s1600/Trebus+image.jpg

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