Cut Before It's Grown 2024 Essay By Sara Prinsloo


An essay by Sara Prinsloo 


‘Cut Before It’s Grown’ is a self-reflective series which explores my mental health and lived experiences; it is a journey into an unconventional adolescence and those ‘things’ that just stay with you forever. The aim is to make sense of my own life experiences: dealing with grief, coming from a working-class background and the impacts of being reckless as a youth. This essay will not discuss such exposures in detail but rather highlight them to conclude a body of work in reaction to key topics which have arisen through them. As I have been inspired by a number of artists who have used art to embody similar issues from a subjective point of view, I have credited each of them throughout this piece. 

A World That Bothers Me - An Analysis of a Head Fuck 


I was born in Ashton Under Lyne hospital, Tameside on the 29th of March 1985. The month the National Union of Mineworkers ends a 51-week strike, the year the first mobile phone calls are made, BT announces a phase out of red telephone boxes, The Dire Straits album Brothers in Arms is released, scientists discover the ozone hole, riots mostly motivated by racial tension break out in Birmingham and Handsworth as well as the Brixton riot erupting after an accidental shooting of a police woman. 5 year old John Shorthouse was shot dead by police when arresting his dad at their home. 


The following years were lived in the small milling village, Hadfield. Just 12 miles west of Manchester and brimming on the edge of the beauty that is the Peak District, our little village lay south side of the river Etherow. Here, our council estate, closely housed families around a small public park and school, meaning we knew most people from the local areas well. This provided a somewhat ‘safe’ community for the youth to play outside until dark. I really enjoyed living there. 

The TV series The League of Gentlemen aired in 2017, and chose Hadfield as their centre stage to set the scene of a black comic vision, mocking village life. My sister, Candy, was an extra on an episode where the Legz Akimbo Theatre Company came to town. She acted as a schoolchild forced to endure the show. Characters Ollie Limsolls, Phil Proctor and Dave Parkes took to the stage with an offensive and controversial performance about AIDS. Adding to its connections to dark-comedy TV, the local area has also been known for the Moors Murders, Harold Shipman’s surgery, and is the hometown of Vivienne Westwood, Ricky Hatton and Hilary Mantel. 

These conflicting environmental factors contributed to recklessness. A lack of discipline and structure saw me smoking crack at 16, attracted partners who hurt me and helped me grow an unhealthy need for alcohol and drugs, destroying my mental wellbeing. The first person I knew who died of drugs was 17. She took a cocktail of different drugs and simply didn’t wake up; and figuratively, neither did we. 


Every night we hung out on the streets smoking, drinking and having fun, as a bunch of normal teenagers figuring life out. A local doctor, Harold Shipman, was just sentenced to life for murdering 15 of his patients. I remember this vividly, as one of our friends spoke of his nan being a victim. Reality television first began with a kick-off from Big Brother. We were obsessed and watched the final at a friend's house whilst helping ourselves to her mum’s drink cabinet. This was also the same year that the first contestant won the million pound jackpot on ‘Who Wants to be a Millionaire’. In 2002, over 50% of the UK population now had internet access, even though I only remember one, maybe two friends who owned an actual computer. 

Tony Blair was in power and led the British participation in the ‘War on Terror’ and controversially, the Iraq War. But I didn’t care, in my eyes the world was fucked anyway. The world in my immediate surroundings was unproductive and lacking in opportunities for people like us. 

From the age of 16, my hardships were the most impressionable towards how my future self looked. There were situations I found myself in that were dangerous, where people took advantage of my vulnerabilities and I grew an unhealthy perspective of men. The corruptive power of money and witnessing the darker side to humanity, has left me feeling abandoned in an unstable world that seemed to fuck me over more times than I can remember. 

I have always been a deep-thinking, sensitive person. quietly questioning my surroundings and over evaluating the nothingness. A means to express myself has forever been creativity. At around 20 years old I was told I was the ‘lucky one’ to have a chance to pursue something in life. Art was this ‘thing’ I enjoyed and the ‘thing’ that offered me an escape from my surroundings. Apart from getting off my face with my friends, art served me pleasure and made me question the world around me. I respected art and its calming qualities. Art is a silent enjoyment and its power of beauty can make the most disturbing or ordinarily of subjects fascinatingly profound.  “The purpose of art is washing the dust of daily life off our souls” Picasso (1964). But art will not wash away the label of a working class background that leaves you reliant on a public education which only lets you down. A lack of both money and the right connections are a huge set back in this world, regardless of talent.


London is where I abandoned everything I knew and left behind those I loved. In the city of London I had to prove my worth that I perceived to be already worth much more than me. As a Northern girl, I was apprehensive to go to the city of London. My hometown meant a lot to me and the only reason I left was a chance to go to a “prestigious art school”. My wonderful college teacher Justine encouraged me to apply. Without Justine, I wouldn’t have considered university, as I didn’t think people in my circumstances had that opportunity. 

The university I was “lucky” to be in helped me develop my best insecurities of class, finances, education and worth and contributed and continued my negative habits of drink and drugs. I did find a family of friends which I shared these years with. Friends who didn’t judge, didn’t criticise and instead inspired me with their own experiences, thoughts and creativity. To this day, I continue to love each of these people.

I gave birth to my first child shortly after graduation. My one goal as a mother was to protect my child from the world that I knew, and to give them a positive experience of life, full of fun and exciting opportunities. 


Complexities in finances, housing and family took us to Hemel Hempstead, Hertfordshire. The day we moved we discovered we were expecting a second child. This was shortly after the 2011 London riots erupted confirming my feelings we had made the right decision. Here in Hertfordshire, we raised our two boys and I began my MA Studies, progressing onto a career in education as an Art Technician alongside periods of teaching. 


2019 my sister died. She was 36 years old. 


As an artist, I am passionate about making work that represents myself; through paintings, involving multiple layers of expressive mark-making alongside controlled linework inspired by my short stint as a tattoo apprentice. I combine both fine art and illustrative techniques. I often reference words and text taken from songs and films which resonate with my life experiences. 

I have always been inspired by street culture and its subcultures, as well as the history of the creative culture within skateboarding. It is not exclusively pieces of art created within these cultures that offer inspiration; it is also ethos, concepts and experimentation expressed by skaters, filmmakers, musicians and designers that inspire too, and the spaces that exist because of them.

My 2D work develops into 3D practice using wood, plaster and Jesmonite. These sculptural works are mostly created using mould-making and casting methods, manipulating existing objects. 3D art enables a level of tactile practices that I had struggled to portray through my earlier paintings and drawings. It is these textures and forms which help present my messages. 

The series ‘Cut Before It’s Grown’ is a continued body of work experimenting with drawing, painting and casting. Documenting the tangible world which I live in, highlighting social issues and encouraging healthy conversations.


Making Sense

I find it hard to talk. Especially in public, or to someone I don’t know. To try to articulate words in front of someone whilst they listen intently, in a time period with no space for mistakes compounds my insecurities and have now grown out of control. My throat swells and the muscles in my neck begin to rob me of my voice, leaving me with an embarrassingly open mouth and no sound. My head begins to feel light and beads of sweat ooze from my pores.

That said, my insecurities only feed my love for the arts. They give me inspiration and art gives me a platform to express myself without words; which is the way I prefer. So, it is through these creative explorations I delve into my own soul and begin some sort of self-understanding of my chaotic past. This need to make sense of the chaos attracts me to other artistic practices that challenge common perceptions and push boundaries; work that explores experiences and behaviours that do not follow norms and values in the traditional sense appeal to me. Expression of devastating, dark, emotional themes have become comforting. The objective for my new art series is to open up conversations of recklessness, what happens when recklessness goes too far and why this may happen. I use my own personal experience to explore this.


Recklessness and Youth

I want to experience the lowest depths of urban culture - Harmony Korine, 1990

American filmmaker Harmony Korine, not only explored the depths he hoped to explore, but delved deeper than most. In Korine’s 2017 special aired on Vice he describes his unhealthy obsession with running towards the “action”, and the “action” always being absurd, erratic and transgressive. During the episode Korine introduces a clip of his first film made back in college in 1990. Over the black and white screen of the bizarre sequence, there is a narration of rambling thoughts, one which says “I just wanted to make sense out of disaster.” This prompted me to question my own disaster and, like Korine’s college movie, make any sense from it. 

Although Korine magnetised towards the irregular lives of others, which could be seen as a conscious choice, maybe because of the creative narrative opportunities this offered? I found myself living one of my own, which I believe was a result of a lack of finances, a complicated home life, ill mental health, an unimpressive education system and negative romantic relationships. It’s only when reflecting back as an adult, I understand the emotional severity of these situations, which I believe could have been avoided. 

It seems, often, my creative instincts have been steered towards devastation and dark sinister subjects. I can recall my fascination visiting an Andy Warhol exhibition. My time there was mostly spent fully immersed in the Death and Disaster series. The repeated screen prints of car crashes, electric chairs and riots provoked my thoughts of why Warhol chose to present tragedy to his audience. But my morbid fascination was predictable, and like many others, I want to slow down to look at the road accident. But I feel my interest is far more profound than simple morbid curiosity. It’s a deep sense of emotion to which I feel overwhelmed, even engulfed in. The ‘death’ and ‘disaster’ to which I have felt before. 

“Thank you for the tragedy, it helped me create my art” - Kurt Cobain, 2020

Would I be witnessing Korine’s trauma by watching his bizarre collaboration with UK magician, David Baine? In 1999 Blaine filmed Korine experimentally provoking passers-by into fights, much like American reality comedy, Jackass, which was to air a year later on MTV. The film was titled Fight Harm and was abandoned with Korine suffering injuries and arrests in the making. Korine states the film roll is locked away in his personal safe. Korine doesn’t like to discuss this part of his past and I understand that. It’s not easy. But that hidden film may say more about Korine than if it weren’t hidden at all.

It's one of the most disgusting things you'll ever see. I wanted to push humour to extreme limits to demonstrate that there's a tragic component in everything” (Korine, 1999)

Korine’s career began at the age of 19 when invited by director Larry Clark to write the screenplay for the 1995 movie, KIDS. Larry Clark is widely known for his photography book Tulsa which documents amphetamine usage in his hometown. Capturing youth culture, drugs and sex,  he has been referred to as a “youth oracle(Crummy 2016). Clark was himself a drug addict and began his career by taking photos of his friends and his environments. Clark has an obscure sense of reality in reality and this spewed into his work. Both Korine and Clark are pushing “youth into the darkness as far as it will go” (Maron 2016). KIDS was deemed highly controversial when released and was banned in some countries. The opening scene is of a young teen Telly persuading a young female to have sex for the first time. Throughout the film, Telly proceeds to ‘deflower' virgin girls whilst carrying the HIV virus. Whether or not he knows he has HIV is unknown to the audience. It’s a depiction of chaotic lives with a lack of morals or any sense of consequence. It involves drugs, underage sex, gnarly fights and friendships between a bunch of skateboarders. The film follows the friends for a day in New York, following their questionable activities.

The actors from KIDS were cast directly from the streets of New York and were in fact, just kids. Most being skateboarders and referred to as “Oblivion Seekers” (Korine, 2017). They were kids escaping their homes and reality with their friends. The film is often spoken as a dramatisation of what their lives actually looked like. “KIDS ‘captured an emotion you can’t articulate” (Harris, 2017) strong bonds between people sharing the same societal struggles and interests. So what did this look like? In reality, using inexperienced actors, whose lives were not far from the actual storyline, where the ‘kids’ took real drugs on set and were filmed doing so?  Larry Clark was heavily criticised for his working practices. Was Clark taking advantage of these ‘kids’ being, at the time, 49 years old? What happened to the cast after the film? 

Following the films release Leo Fitzpatrick, known as Telly, Chloe Sevigny - Jenny, Jon Abrahams - Steven and Rosario Dawson - Ruby further ventured their career in the film industry. But, seeing as the experiences that the film depicted weren’t that far from reality for much of the cast, the tragedy that bestowed some of the stars highlighted the stark realism behind Clark’s and Korine’s art. Justin Pierce, known as the character Casper, took his own life at the age of just 25. Harold Hunter, who played Harold, died of a cocaine-induced heart attack in 2006. It’s these tragic deaths that raised some questions. Nadine Witney has attacked the movie's ethics in a 2023 online article stating “Clark watched like a vulture, he plied the non-professional cast with drugs and alcohol, perhaps more importantly to give them a sense they could escape the projects for something more.” When KIDS premiered at Cannes, Clark and Korine claimed no drugs were on set and everyone was of an appropriate age, which is said to be false in the documentary We Were Only Kids by Eddie Martin created in 2021. Martin reflects on the real life individuals who were parts of the film KIDS and discusses its cultural impact and the impact of the fame machine. Whitney suggests “Clark and Korine refusing to take part in the documentary speaks for itself.” In reflection, whether or not the movie's production is to blame for any wrongdoing, the film KIDS will give us topics to debate for years to come and will always be an important part of film history because it invites us into the uncomfortable realisation of youth life and forces the audience to consider the social and cultural factors that influence how we think and behave. 

‘Jesus Christ What Happened?’ are final words, uttered by Pierce’s character Casper at the end of the film. A roundup of catastrophic events and a moment when he not only reflects, but expresses disbelief in the events that have taken place. The words are spoken not long after the scene where Casper rapes Jenny. In this moment, the audience are taken through an uncomfortable awareness of the reckless consequences of the characters in the film. These words resonated with me immediately and I knew a creative response was necessary. I have taken the ending statement through an artistic process, from 2D to 3D pieces using ink and paper as well as plaster and wood. These words have helped me to represent and translate my own complexities of grief that are beyond my comprehension. The plaster aspect being cast in carrier bags is my nod to low social class status and represents how this factor has been a key aspect to my tragedy and trauma. The film KIDS abruptly ends after this line with the song ‘Spoiled’ which beautifully conveys the film’s concept;

Spoiled Children soon to fall.
Freedom is the lie we live. 
We will wait for the tragedy. 
Sorry for ourselves.
Sorry for the things we’ve seen.
(Sebadoh 1991)



Trauma leaves you contemplative; looking back at the world you once knew to the world you now find yourself in.

Questions about both current situations, and things that lay deep. Unfortunately, grief only contributed to my idea that the world was fucked, and bleak, and there wasn’t anything positive for me. I tried desperately to make sense of the situation and how I was supposed to react for years to come. Guilt, depression and anxiety were to follow. The loss we endured was followed rapidly by the COVID pandemic and lockdowns, which only helped to feed my unhealthy habits and behaviours. At 34 I was rebelling, just as I did in my teens, but with parental responsibilities and a career to manage. Like all difficult circumstances throughout my life, drinking was how I coped and escaped from reality. 

Can grief distort our social morals? Does it change who we are and what we believe in? Ricky Gervais created a drama series titled Afterlife (2029 - 2023) which follows Tony, a person who recently lost his wife to cancer. The tragic event altered Tony’s morals, who then decided tolive long enough to punish the world for his wife's death by saying and doing whatever he fancies, something he describes as a superpower” (Eames 2022). These sometimes dark, sometimes funny situations that Tony creates for himself build a picture of the complexities of grief and how we react as human beings. 

My sibling’s death prompted a continuing unhealthy thought process which mostly consisted of an anxious dread and worry that another terrible event was to follow. Through therapy, I realised this stemmed from the lack of control we generally have in life. I found myself in a fight or flight mode, which in turn caused intense stress and anxiety for a long period of time. There was no sense or order to the world I saw. I questioned my own sanity, my own morals and my own idea of what was right and wrong. The world was blurred and, like Tony, I didn’t really care anymore. 



We make our own choices of how we behave in our lives which we are liable for. These choices come about everyday. How do we make these decisions? Choices can be influenced by our environment, our standards, ethics, our expectations, beliefs and emotions. Our choices can also change. Our law is a structure which implements rules in ways we are expected to behave within society. But does a law- abiding citizen have more to offer the world than a person who breaks it? There may be times when people rebel against societal norms or the law to fight for changes. 

‘What if you’re right and they're wrong?’

A concept taken from a scene in the first series of American comedy-drama, Fargo. Hitman Lorene Malvo influences the very ‘ordinary’ and bullied insurance salesman, Lester, to challenge his morals and societal norms, resulting in him bludgeoning his wife Pearl to death with a hammer. A moment where right and wrong becomes distorted. Where a split second of rebellion takes over and the line of social righteousness is crossed. Gervais uses similar techniques throughout the Netflix drama ‘After Life’ to further challenge our moral concepts.

‘Normal’ is an ugly word for artists, but ugly is attractive because we dispute and eradicate the idea of normal with new ideas and visual language. What if normal can be just as a-peel-ing as a banana duct taped to a gallery wall, selling for $120,000 at Art Basel, Miami Beach? Would Lester have taken the plunge to kill his wife if he wasn’t judged for being weak, when his life was seen as simple and boring? Could there be beauty to be found in the simply ordinary too?

UK Rapper Slowthia released his debut album UGLY in 2023. Slowthia describes the album as taking something negative and finding a positive. He asked his close friends and admirers what the word ‘ugly’ means to them with his favourite answer being “The word ugly describes anything that is clashing to the extreme. Any one thing that goes against the rest. If you’re able to get far enough away from it and take in more information the ugly elements balance out into something natural and not what I would call ugly at all.” (Ewens ND) Slowthia often discussing themes of suicide, drugs, sex, societal margins and discusses mental health provides a breath of fresh air in a time where music has been referred to as ‘stale’. Slowtia’s challenges are popular amongst his fans; there seems to be a common interest in how beauty can be something different to traditional stereotypes that we know. 

As a working-class artist, my life experiences resonate with the lyrics and beliefs of the UK band, the Idles, who discuss topics of working-class life, solidarity and depictions of cultures similar to my own. The band deliver their songs in brutish, rowdy, energetic performances. Their music, driven by strong emotions for change often gets the crowd emotionally charged, with a fan base who challenge democracy. 

The Idles discuss in a 2018 interview that their audience are “frustrated and disenfranchised by Pop Culture, by their governments, by boredom, by lots of things”. Lead singer Joe Tabolt goes on to say “there’s a hunger for honesty and a bit of violence but with love behind it.” (Groovy Tunes Magazine 2018).  The importance of authenticity screams out through the poetic literacy of the Idles lyrics which have recently been challenged by singer Jason Williamson from the Sleaford Mods, accusing them of ‘class appropriation’. Sleaford Mods are a Northern band exploring themes of culture, working-class life and austerity-era Britain and have been compared to the Idles in terms of originality, subjects and punk likeness. But interestingly Williamson revealed his ‘disappointment when learning of the Idles class origins didn't match up to the claims made in songs like "I'm Scum” (“I'm council housed and violent/I'm laughing at the tyrants/I'm sleeping under sirens")’ (Mc Lister.2021) 

Their album Ultra Mono was criticised for being an “attack on a class of people they'd previously claimed solidarity with” (Mc Lister 2021) The song Model Village refers to villagers to be ‘idiots’ and ‘half pint thugs’. This being said as a 'step too far'.

J.Tabolt has responded by announcing the band will no longer perform the song live. “I don’t want to perform Model Village live, because I’m not in that place any more.” he said “I’m not defensive, I’m not angry. I’m not scared anymore, and I was when I wrote that album.” (Jones 2021). In 2021 the Idles re-released the song and featured working class rapper Slowthia on the track which could also provoke a questionable debate. 

Emotions change as often as our feelings do. I have found myself experiencing anger at the unfairness of social structure, and this propelled a creative hindrance along with my busy schedule of self-destruction. Is there a point where we see our anger as the incorrect way to make changes to what we are angry about? Does anger provoke change or do we have to transform our anger into something else to become productive? 

Walmsley (2004) said “To get a full understanding of deviant behaviour, we have to look at not only the people who break the rules, but also those who make and enforce them” Rishi Sunak from the Conservative Party is currently Prime Minister of the United Kingdom. A person with heavy responsibilities and the trust of the UK population. During his conference speech in Manchester on the 4th October 2023, Sunak slurred that the British public are being bullied into believing that people can be any sex they want to be. According to Billison (2023) Sunak said “A man is a man and a woman is a woman, that’s just common sense.”  It’s not the first time Sunak has attacked the trans community and has been heard making jokes about women having penises. Sunaks dismissal of trans lives only puts the community at risk of hate crimes which are already on the rise. As a person who is supposed to set the tone for our county, Sunak’s words are problematic and deeply concerning. Forces like Sunak limit and control contemporary social life and he has successfully excluded, neglected and marginalised a whole community. 

Even though they come from someone in power, challenging these comments are important,especially if they come from someone in power. Creativity has always been a way to communicate these challenges. The Idles have been known to challenge negative labels of identity. In their lyrics they discuss toxic masculinity, a theme which can also be seen through works of multidisciplinary, working-class artist Trackie McLeod from Glasgow. Both Tabolt and McLeod have said they take inspiration from trans artist Sir Grayson Perry’s 2016 book Descent of Man, in the book he discusses what masculinity is and what kind of man would make the world a better place. “What would happen if we rethought the old, macho, outdated version of manhood, and embraced a different idea of what makes a man?” (Perry 2017). McLeod also rethinks our perceptions of masculinity, establishing change and challenging societal norms. His art work expresses the need to bin damaging terms like ‘man up’ or ‘mummy's boy’. Tabolt lyrics also highlight similar masculine damaging terms in the song Samaritans; “Man up, sit down / Chin up, pipe down / Socks up, don’t cry / drink up, don’t whine.”



Before I knew my own self, I had others referring to me as a tomboy. As a small child I didn’t understand the term but was very much aware that was how others saw me. As a young person I found BMXs, football, climbing trees and lighting fires far more enjoyable than the activities my older sister would partake in. As I grew into my late teens, early 20s, interestingly enough I did enjoy dressing up ready for a night out in more feminine clothing. But as I descend into my 40s, I’m very much where I began. I feel less vulnerable in my tracksuits and love the comfortability of cotton on my skin. We see this style more and more from female celebrities such as Little Simz and in street culture through streetwear fashion. These are aspects I have included in my Art Nouveau take on female identity, paintings. Updating the 19th century French Art Deco, over populated imagery and taking through the life journey of a working-class female in the 21st century. My own class identity appears in the paintings through sports clothes, ‘chavvy’ accessories, tattoos and subtle symbolism of low social status such as vermin, rodents, carrier bags and cheap cider.  I choose to present my inner self within these paintings and open a challenge on societal norms of beauty. I like to think of my trashy ladies as strong women who empower the next generation to be authentic in their being. Women who object to be categorised because of their behaviour or appearance, courageous and inspirational women. 



It was Feb 2009, my last year of BA Fine Art studies and the worldwide financial crisis had been in full swing for a year. Students occupied the building over complaints about resources, amongst other things. They were protesting because they saw a decrease in tutorial hours, less access to facilities, fewer resources and we were dissatisfied with the way the course was delivered. What I personally saw in my ignorant self was no presence of staff and a studio where we were left to our own devices. The attitude of the course providers didn’t support their students and in turn I had no care for them either and quietly continued my life of self destruction without any kind of professional support. I wish I could say I was part of the protest but I was most probably in the pub. 

Completing my BA in London whilst pregnant, I felt as if I had waved goodbye to my creative career. I believe I was to blame for my lack of self-discipline and the impact it was having on my education. At that particular time I was a broken person. I had negative attitudes towards my education, negativity towards the new environment I found myself in. Nothing prepared me for the feeling of being challenged by my own identity and economic background. 

From 2016 - 2018 I returned to University to study an MA course at Hertfordshire University. It was their first online Illustration Masters course and was half the price with it being taught this way. It was also a qualification I could achieve with the newly announced 2016 MA student finance funding which was put in place to “help bridge the skills gap” (Northumbria University 2018) which the UK was facing at the time. “The £10,906 Postgraduate loan is available for UK and EU students”. (Northumbria University 2018) The loan raised questions with the borrowing amount being up to £10,609 and an average postgraduate course costing £11,000.  “As a result, there is a clear barrier to affordability, which consequently prices out those who are economically disadvantaged but wish to continue their education.” (Wilson 2019) My online MA was not only cheaper at £4080, but it was also part time which enabled me to work as a postie too. I was lucky to be in this situation but the figures are an example of how education, again, can create problematic issues and further barriers for the unwealthy. 

Even though I was probably on the wrong type of course, I took the loan whilst in disbelief I was accepted. I now look back at my portfolio submitted from a professional point of view, and to be completely honest, it didn’t merit a Masters enrollment. I believe I wasn’t on the course for my talent, but for my money for these reasons.

Evidence in recent news highlights the issues of ‘rip-off’ degrees and universities facing a cap on numbers of courses with high dropout rates and low proportions of students achieving a career after their degree, by government. Are these low value courses taking advantage of those in lower income positions, who believe they are going to university to develop their career, skills and opportunities? UK Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak explained “Too many young people are being sold a false dream and end up doing a poor quality course at the taxpayers' expense that doesn't offer the prospect of a decent job at the end of it.” (Lynch 2023) As a result of this there has been a cancellation of a number of university courses, especially in the creative industry. Instead of developing these courses to offer an enriched education and change the enrollment process to only accept students who are fully committed and at the stage where their work is strong enough to achieve good grades, it appears it’s much easier, and cheaper to wipe them out all together and force lecturers out of work.


Final Analysis 

It was vital I began a self-reflective body of work at this particular time in my life. Grief and trauma have naturally put me in a state of evaluation. Creative practice is a safe process that I am using to access core memories, feelings and experiences. Cut Before It’s Grown is a series serving me time to accept and celebrate who I am, rather than hiding or ignoring important aspects of myself that have provoked reckless behaviour and insecurities over the years. Through authenticity and honesty, I have managed a secure way to explore my own complexities. I want to use my art to present the idea of change to a society, education and art world, which under-represents marginalised groups and circulates around financial gain. I feel that through these words I have found an authentic way of exploring the complexities of my existence so far. 

Anger is my strongest emotion, and it has hindered many opportunities and disrupted my growth and opportunities, education, and fueled me to rebel. This anger exists for a few reasons, which in itself, is an ongoing evaluation. One being negative, sexual experiences and how sex can be used to hurt others, both emotionally and physically. Another, the environment I grew up in and the lack of support as a working-class person. And in recent years, the loss of my sibling, the very person who I would love to have this conversation with. This essay is not the space to discuss these individual events, but the experiences that influenced them.

My insecurities of social class and identity are key factors in this body of work and have allowed me to transform negative feelings into a commemoration of my identity. I have used images that resonate with my life and transformed Art Nouveau classic imagery into replications of myself. I want to capture my experiences through my artwork. Through this work, I am able to communicate far more than I can in this essay. I am giving my experiences value, even the negative ones. This is catharsis. These portraits also touch on damaging labels and terms, in association to identity. Fellow artists McLeod, Tabolt and Grayson Perry are rethinking our perceptions and, like myself, want to challenge toxic labels and embrace new ideas of what makes us who we are. Both physically and symbolically, I have embodied subjects and words which resonate with my past. I hope to portray value in the struggles that derive from the class system and issues that stem from these. My own experience with drug consumption, alcohol and problems in education have in turn influenced how I reacted to trauma. My paintings of reckless animals are also portrayals of this but with removal of the human form to symbolise the dehumanisation of those who don’t fit into societal norms. Presenting my insecurities as paintings provided me the opportunity to re-think my emotions, questions where they may come from and hope this can change the way I feel negatively about my life.  

Throughout this process I have looked into other artists to seek direction. Idles illustrated how anger and hate can be portrayed in the wrong context and challenged by others, which resulted in a piece of work to never be performed live. From accusations and ‘cancel culture’, it displayed the importance of authenticity, which as a working-class artist and fan of their music, disappointed me a little. But it also showed me the complexities of class association. I can resonate in terms of my own class as the life I experienced growing up was far different to that of my 10 year younger brother. I faced financial hardships and struggles where my brother, not so much. I moved out of my family home at 16 and found myself in reckless and dangerous environments. I was independent and worked to where I am today through sheer determination. My family are now ‘better off’ financially and my dad doesn't work in a factory anymore but is a Director of one, and our council house is long gone. It raises an interesting conversation of how class is defined. My aim here is not to be negative to others with healthier bank balances, but to make a space for those who were not given the help or opportunities they should have, given their social class. I’ve found that life experiences of the working class need to have more value and given a healthy spotlight, for us to learn as a society and to change negative preconceptions. The same spotlight Larry Clarke, Kurt Cobain, Slow Thia, Sleaford Mods and Trackie McLeod already highlighted. Harmony Korine is known for shining a spotlight on the lower social class, sharing non-fictional stories of reckless behaviours and their consequences in these environments.  This not only shows through the film KIDS, but also Korine's films throughout his career. 

Through comparison of other creatives who explore chaos and reckless behaviour, whether it be their own, their environments or their creative interests, I have begun to understand and respect the creative opportunities this has to offer. The value in these experiences can become a coping mechanism. But through sharing, understanding and expressing them we can educate and comfort. What happens if we continue to ignore the voices of the youth? Do we continue to allow those in low societal margins to have less opportunities? Can we change our language and shift ourselves from using derogatory terms like ‘chav’? Shall we continue to judge those facing hardship and how they choose to cope?

I have previously chosen to take reckless actions to forget I care, because caring was inconvenient. Right winged professor and psychologist, Jordan Peterson is well known for telling us that chaos will have negative effects on ourselves as well as those around us. But there’s still something inside me that chooses a little chaos over boredom. Like Tabolt, I fight against boredom, with anger and love and healthily challenge preconceptions of the norm. Even though Peterson tells me recklessness will make me pay, something inside me would still tell him to “go fuck himself”.

It is the anger and anarchy that fuels a fight, our passion and the authenticity of who we are. I do not see my behaviour and experiences as an error, but a formulation for learning. I am replacing my ‘mistakes’ with ‘mistakism’ which is a theory coined by Korine. It is the idea that the only real magic in art is found through accidents. That the real creative spirit manifests itself in mistakes, my mistakes.  There is anger that still exists as a natural reaction to my ‘mistakisms’ and the contributing factors to my ‘mistaksims’. I am still angry at myself for taking so long to realise this. I am angry that my credit score represents my sensibility, I am angry that I am skint, I am angry that the security guard in the supermarket follows me around, I am angry that my sister died, I am angry that I did not fulfil every opportunity effectively, I am angry at the fact the world seems more than difficult to live in, I am angry that, to others, this is not the case. See, there is beauty in that. ‘What matters most and sits at the core of what an artist does is almost always a feeling. A way of seeing life with a patina of emotions’ (Nelson 2004). It is a visual record of my engagement in my environment, in my lifetime, in my circumstances. I self-express with actual, real love in my heart which provides order to my chaos. Sir Grayson Perry then comforts me during his live performance A Show All About You, 2023 as he shares his new illustrated coat of arms which reads ‘Go in Angry, Come out Happy’. So it’s true…..You can? Blimey!

 I still think the kids are going to be OK. It's your world, and you guys have to figure it out. It keeps changing. These kids know right from wrong. It's their fault. It's also society's fault, the parents' fault, the culture's fault... but ultimately it's down to the kids. - Larry Clark 2023 


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