This month we hear how a serious accident at work saw Fozz reconnect with his interest in art and how it has been a type of medication for him ever since.
Trigger warning – this interview references how art has helped the artist deal with suicidal feelings
Why and when did you start making artwork?
Well, like most artists I originally took an interest in art way back in my earlier years. I could always be found with a piece of paper, a pencil and colouring pens creating whatever came into my head. I’d say this was applicable all the way up until I moved from my home town, in Stoke-on-Trent, to pursue chosen my career in London at the age of 21. As my career today over my art took a backseat. In 2015 I was injured, as a result of an accident at work, and this left me with severe and incurable chronic pain affecting both hands and arms, a medical assessment revealed that I had lost 86% use of my hands. I was also suffering with unresolved trauma from a work related incident in 2012 and later diagnosed with C-PTSD. After seeing a post on Instagram in 2018 I became aware that art was an effective ‘therapy’ tool that helped people with mental health difficulties. I got back into the swing of art once again and, after a substantial trial and error with disability aids, I managed to find things that would help me to use pens, pencils, brushes etc. I now use art as my ‘therapy’ tool when I start to feel overwhelmed and I can say that picking up a pencil and drawing has literally saved me from the difficulties surrounding suicidal ideation.
What does art mean to you?
If I was asked this question 6 years ago I would have said art was a way of relaxation or switching off from the world, but now I would say that art is in some sense my additional ‘medication’ to help with the complexities of my mental health problems. I find art enjoyable, both creating and viewing, and I don’t think I could now cope without it being a part of my life.
How would you describe your work?
What I aim for is a slightly new take on abstract geometric art, using whatever I can to overcome the physical barriers I face. I’d like to think that the words ‘geometric’ & ‘abstract’ would be the best words to describe what I do.
What inspires your work?
It’s very cliche for me to say this but everything I see is an inspiration, for example, I’ll see shapes and combinations of shapes from structural forms, furniture, images etc. I have a great fondness of many artists, both living and deceased, such as Wassily Kandinsky, László Maholy-Naghy, Kazimir Malevich, Joan Miró, Alexander Rodchenko etc. I also follow many different periods/styles of art like russian constructivism, hard edging, geometric abstraction etc and I find that these give me a wealth of inspiration.
How do you keep motivated to create?
This is where I struggle a bit. I am constantly tired due to poor or no sleep so I find that my motivation is lacking on most days. However, I find that I can overcome the struggle for motivation by taking to Instagram and viewing the new updates by the many talented artists I follow. This is a sure fire way that can help stoke the fire of motivation.
Do you think about an audience when you create your work – if so what do you hope a viewer might get your art?
To be honest, and quite bluntly, I don’t think about any target audience at all. All of the artwork that I create is a representation of the difficulties I face at the time of creating it. Like, when I mentioned earlier about using art as a ‘therapy’ tool, the piece of art I produce will be a direct representation of, say, a time when I’m attempting to move away from suicidal thoughts. Again, a bit of a cliched thing to say, but, there’s a lot of emotion behind what I create because of daily battles with stopping myself from attempting suicide again. The audience that I have attracted via social media seems to be from a variety of different backgrounds and I feel VERY lucky to have so many people supporting me in what I do.
Has covid and lockdown impacted your work – if so, how?
Personally, I haven’t experienced any impact on my work, yet, and I say this purely because I spend almost all of my time at home anyway. I can’t/don’t leave my home on my own because of severe anxiety problems, so it’s not uncommon for me to spend weeks at home without going out. When I do venture outside, more often than not, it’s to attend a hospital appointment or something similar, so, all of the restrictions facing us here in the UK aren’t yet causing any interference in my work. I guess when I start to sell prints etc then this could cause some delay issues in both supply and dispatching orders.
Do you have a standout moment as an artist so far?
I do have a few standout moments but there is one that outshines everything I’ve achieved so far and that is having one of America’s top artists take an interest in my work. I remember opening my Instagram app to see that I had a new follower by the name of Alexandra Grant, at first it didn’t sink in who it actually was and then I repeated the name to myself and thought “it can’t be that Alexandra Grant, surely?!!?” Low and behold it was! I became aware of her work after seeing her artwork during some of my downtime research. Ms Grant uses written language in collaboration with her work and I became aware of one of her pieces where she has used the text “I was born to love not to hate” from Sophocles’ play Antigone, and it gave me the inspiration to learn more about Sophocles’ Biography, her work really does do more than make for enjoyable viewing. To have such an iconic artist as a ‘follower’ has really given me a very much needed confidence boost.
What are your future hopes and ambitions?
I would love to make my journey into the art world more than just posts to Instagram and I would love to have many more collectors of my work from across the world. For me, just to have the opportunity to spread my work further and further afield would be an overwhelming, yet very welcome, feeling. If I can overcome the mental disabilities and learn to better deal with the physical disabilities then there’s no reason why I can’t feel like the world is my oyster!