This work was born as a collaboration between York St John University and Leeds Libraries (pls, see Secret Library Leeds here). We have been given an issue of The Other Paper and asked to produce an artwork informed by same. My issue was no. 104 dated 11 May 1979. That was the week when Margaret Thatcher became Prime Minister.
The front page of the paper shows a sort of sad child, almost already defeated, next to the words Play Time. The article just below has the word VIOLENCE printed in bold in the title.
Imagine it's summer. It's warm, the sun is shining, and you are always out, playing with your friends, fighting cowboys, or winning races, jumping, laughing, swimming, running, frolicking, skipping, dancing, singing. Making up stories, and living imaginary lives.
These should be the summertimes for children. This is what children should do. How children should be.
In this work titled I N N O C E N C E I reproduced an imaginary world by going back to my summer of 1979 and then revisiting summers and holidays and happy moments of my life, while listening to one of my favourite songs: "Vento d'Estate", summer wind, by Niccoló Fabi and Max Gazzé.
The video is the original version, but I actually played a live version, full of ethnic sounds and Mittleuropean vibes which is now closer to my heart (here).
It's this summer wind
I am going to the sea
what are you doing?
Don't wait for me
maybe I get lost.
The painting is textured (impasto) and layered, and I have used as reference some images of Leeds which I then reproduced in abstract form using part of the buildings I found more iconic - such as Kirkstall Abbey, for example, with its large arches.
As part of my usual process, I have then cut the painting and used part of its cut-outs to create a 3D maze or labyrinth, or map (depending on how you want to see it) in a process of remembrance, cataloguing of memories, and not wanting to forget. As a form of carrying on memories, parts of this painting (and its history) will end up in other works in the future.
The importance of memories and legacy is then reinforced by framing the work in a box, further protecting our experiences as children.
Not being British, I cannot imagine what it meant living in the North of England when Thatcher came to power and how that changed this Country. Nevertheless, I could not disregard the feeling of anxiety and powerlessness, frustration and bitterness, I could sense in most articles within this issue. A sense of bitterness I can still feel while walking among the people, here in Lancashire, where I live and where it feels that life ended, together with hope, 50 years ago.
Hence my decision to focus on the children, on their hopes and fun, dreams and imaginary worlds, and who instead were voiceless witnesses to their parents' fears. Those children who are now adults in their 50s and which I wish still dream and hope.
I N N O C E N C E
3D collage - map / maze
gesso, acrylic paint and permanent markers on paper
25 x 25 cm
signed on the back
artist : matilde tomat
inspired by The Other Paper, Issue 104, 11 May 1979