Process and practice

Artist Blog by Oliver Martin

I was living in Catalunya in a village surrounded by pine forests when I started this project. I’d run in the forest and knew it well; I began to find locations, derelict buildings and huts with signs of fires, drink cans and other objects lying around. Being in a new country with different languages, customs and behaviour patterns felt like a separation from my cultural ties in the UK; I felt free. It got me thinking about my time growing up and how the experiences, bonds and values I formed at this time have influenced my life. I returned to these sights in the evenings and met groups of boys building fires, breaking stuff, dancing and messing around. I immersed myself in the forest, finding new places and meeting new people, researching the history and locations of ancient megaliths and dolmens. I was always scared of approaching a group of boys; they were always so close, together, such a strong unit. I was an outsider from a different country and generation. Once I’d made the first step and talked about what I was doing, they were incredibly accepting and welcoming. I would observe and photograph or I would ask them to pose or perform for the camera and then share the work with them during the process. Throughout the project, I was reading about the history of Catalunya and the theory on youth identity, gender and vulnerability. The process of continued research whilst making work created a synthesis between the theories and the visual; it drove the project forward.

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