I was raised Catholic, although you know that now. My interests lay in biology, art and God. If a ‘God spot’ exists in the brain, mine was anabolic in size. I’m told I wanted to be a priest when I was in primary school. That soon changed. The artist’s muse in my soul posed a question. My stroll through religion started in church and ended where he will soon stand… Let me explain.
Catholicism changed gradually into rebellion. When you rebel against an organisation based around God’s glory, who do you make friends with? Well I heard about a book you could send away for. You would enclose £25 with your address and in a few weeks it would arrive. It did. It had all sorts of charms and curses to harm your dearly despised ones. I didn’t ever believe what I was reading but I was fascinated. It must have taken such creativity for someone to put down on paper. Even more so the fact that they had created an urban legend around this book – a legend so convincing that people would send cash through the post with no proof of its return. The innocent artwork of my youth degraded into dark images I attributed to the devil, yet these were more likely based on teenage angst. The muse had an unanswered question.
This was soon abandoned, my mum told me to pray for forgiveness as God would condemn me to hell. I will admit I was a little worried. Worry dissolved away into atheism. Whenever the subject of God or religion would arise I would be the first on the scene. In case of religion break glass! My axe was keen with facts, logic and science. All with the intention of disproving this God I had heard so much about.
One day as I sat watching the morning news, a reporter stated that there had been a book published with the first evidence of an after life. This was the scientific method based on thousands of cases. They formed together into one book with 23 questions. Each question a logical one to enquire. Each question had an answer. Each answer was a case study of one particular case in the multitude which best answered the query. I missed the title and author, so I forgot about it for a year or two. I filled these years with stifled creativity which soon became a potential career in art and design. My GCSE art teacher had faith that if I applied myself that I might go professional someday. The unanswered question had a possible conclusion.
On a day much like the morning news, during a phone call with my sister, the subject of this fabled book arose. She instantly recognised its description and informed me of title and author. The game was afoot! I found it, bought it, absorbed it. It gave me a sense of deja vu while I digested its knowledge. It had such logic and science in droves that I couldn’t disprove it. Not for all my atheism. He had searched himself for mentions of the world his case studies were describing in their deep trances. He could not find a match. Not in books, articles, media – anything! This book soon became a very important part of my life. I read more around the subject, yet these further books gave me a sense of doubt. Eventually I reached a point where my beliefs were less faith, more fascination.
Every religion and belief became a thought-provoking icon. The world was abundant with icons and I could not help but feel that all of them were wide of the mark. Their creativity abounds, yet their theory of creation seemed obscured. I felt inspired. My planned artwork moved from mythology and into biology. I ordered a 25m length of rope and a heated glue gun. My plan was to coil the rope into the contours of the human body. It was man-made man: an artificial theory of creation. My muse could see the true answer on its horizon.
The intention of this was not to highlight the untruths of religion. It was to demonstrate humility. Should an afterlife exist, the human race has worked its utmost to describe and explain it. We have attempted on countless occasions to stare at the face of God and then to draw his likeness – in words, mostly. While believers each scoff at their contemporaries, I stand detached. My outsider’s view is this:
Should an afterlife exist, the human mind is too feeble and limited in this physical environment to even come close to describing its ethereal one. We see less of the visible spectrum of light than goldfish. Sharks can smell blood from miles away. Whales hold conversations across vast distances. Dogs have the ability to hear a great deal better than any living human. Ergo we have a limited sense of our surroundings than even other earthly creatures. Who are we to say that the snake has not a better view of the afterlife than us, since its pallet so many more colours? Man-made man is not an insult to religion, it is a humble account of the potential to our afterlife. Should an afterlife exist, it is far more glorious in its splendour and simplicity than any one of us could devise.
And so now my beliefs are redundant to my mind. I choose to believe in fundamental basics with which I will not furnish this entry. My quest to complete this earthbound piece of contemporary art will continue – yet it will not be rushed. In the old idiom quoted far and wide, I may be run over by a bus leaving the house tomorrow morning. Should this happen, the artist in my soul will have an answer at last for its muse. On that day, man-made man’s purpose will be derelict, as my oblivion will open its eyes and he will stand beside me an equal.