The A - Z of Anger Management consists of a series of works in a variety of media and contexts which consider how historical events, in particular those in living memory that affect the lives of ordinary people, are commemorated through the accumulation of personal and family archives with which we are all familiar such as photographs and other documents and memorabilia and how contemporary art practice may serve to examine these issues in ways that are not formally addressed in any traditional sense by organisations, institutions and museums.
The starting point for this project is a consideration of my own family history in particular my late grandfathers experiences as a Japanese prisoner of war on the island of Java during the Second World War (a subject which was brought into relief whilst attending a commemorative service and museum dedication on VJ Day 2005 at The National Memorial Arboretum in Alrewas Staffordshire). One of the issues central to this exploration is how this ongoing flow of history which contains and connects with narratives of pain, loss and human suffering formulate individual pshychologies which resonate through family life to the present day.
The feeling that my late grandmother had that her husband would probably not return from his ordeal (and the possibility that he had already lost his life) led her to seek solace in the arms of an American GI, a story which was never directly discussed but was alluded to by my father on a number of occasions. I have a very strong sense (upheld by other family members) that she actually resented his return and this led to her expressing a level of contempt throughout their married life which caused my grandfather to become a subdued and somewhat repressed individual. This tension within the family must surely have affected their children (my father and his brother) and my contention is that this underlying pattern has continued to reveal itself in moments of personal distress, anger and frustration.
I aim to explore and illustrate some measure of these issues by developing a series of works, images and objects that allude to circumstances often not of our own making which can elicit strands of negative emotion within current cultural processes (the Christian or Victorian work ethic), are reflected by behaviour within societal groups (how young men express their masculinity through language and symbols) and how general attitudes within our society are affected by the passage of time and the vagaries of memory with particular consideration given to the ongoing effect and outcomes of global conflict.
Through a process of research, discussion, travel and actual production of the work I intend to formulate the components of an exhibition which will express my own individual responses as an artist to the issues raised and strike a universal chord with potential audiences for whom personal history and family circumstance
may perhaps dictate patterns of repeated behaviour but at the same time reflect collective epmpathic understanding of our need to remember and rejoice in the lives of those who have gone before.
Individual elements that form the basis of The A-Z of Anger Management:
1. Series of 9 printed digital images.
2. 1/12 scale Model POW hut entitled "Goods In".
3. Pearls Of Wisdom by "WBA" (Notebook with hand written poetic telling of experiences in Camp One, Tandjong Priok POW camp Java 1942 - 1943)
4. Possible performance/enactment by self wearing Imperial Japanese Army (IJA) guards uniform including actual historical items incl' officers sword and or sake cup etc).
5. 1/6 scale IJA infantryman action figure.
6. Action Man WWII British soldier in desert or jungle kit.
7. Constructed pieces utilising Gunner Hope documents.
8. 2 x 1/12 scale IJA model Toyota style trucks (one in IJA livery and one modified in the style of "Pimp my Ride".
9. "SHAZAM the Album" CD of nine music or spoken word audio pieces.
10. Printed and mounted copy of Japanese forces surrender text (possibly accompanied with audio of such as featured in the film King Rat [Brian Forbes 1965]).
11. Possible visit (by ocean going freighter) to Java and photographic document of journey etc.
12. Investigation of possibility of sourcing timber from the tree hopea sangal or similar genus indigenous to Indonesia/Far East for model making purposes.
13. The photography of Felice Beato (ca. 1825–1908) who was one of the earliest western photographers to work and record life in Japan (ca. 1850's - 1884)
14. Investigation of possibility of linking up with Japanese/Far East artists with parallel contextual interests.
15. Tedddy Bears with machine guns (series of digital prints)
16. Soapstone carving by fellow POW which survived the exegencies of incarceration.
17. Conversations with family members which may be documented with text and video.
18. Background research.