Shells by James Paddock

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Artist James Paddock recently embarked on a new creative project entitled Shells. Through Shells, James is exploring complex themes of identity, humanity and mental health. The results will be a pair of films presented as interweaving video installations. Ahead of its opening, James shared his project with Outside In.

I have recently been awarded with Arts Council England funding, which took some time to achieve. I had assistance from people with more familiarity than myself with the funding procedure. I imagine you must have 100% confidence in your own artwork, as being something special and that drive should take you through the grueling (for someone in my position in life) application process. Be warned the ACE funding process is very competitive.

james and hattie on location

James Paddock on location with actress Hattie Gotobed 

So, the successful project ‘Shells’ comprises of two interweaving video installations. The first is called ‘Blinds’ and works on different layers of concepts, narratives and thoughts. If there is a first layer that would be about the ‘Shells’ we belong to in life, we are born into a shell and never leave shells in life. Be that family, home, hobbies, friends, cultures or even nations, shells are everywhere in life. Then there’s a layer about the older male character in the film/installation who bridges both the analogue and digital age, experiencing and liking aspects of both, he remembers an age when kids would go out to play and life was a different reality than today’s reality. It’s also about the human condition and humans wanting to protect their shells and habitat or environment. This seems to go back to our roots as humans and is prevalent in today’s shells which is our internet social networks.

dean and hattie 11

Hattie Gotobed and Dean Kilby in a still from Blinds

The second installation is called ‘Nets’ which is about famous people who achieved greatness and brought invention and changed the world who lived or live with some sort of mental condition. Within this artwork I want people to see some mental health conditions as a ’positive’ and the ‘turnover’ of a new idea to be celebrated. Our time in history sees mental differences or the new or unique thought as being a ‘negative thought’ or a ‘screwed up thought’ or way of thinking.  History proving the mentally ill have and if capable of once again slipping the net, can bring about positive change to the world.

Although, it has been and will always be a therapeutic experience, I am committed to producing quality artworks. After the day on location filming of ‘Blinds’ I was the most exhausted I must have ever been. Challenged by my collaborators to have a full involvement in seeing my concepts come into a material form. Art is everything to me and the goodness of the creative community recently in giving their support has not only restored a confidence in the human condition, but has helped me develop my art.

Shells will form part of two exhibitions to go on display at the Production House in the The Sorting Office studios in Eastleigh (19-24 April) and Black Box project space, UCA Farnham (7-15 June).
The project is supported by Tec Hub Eastleigh and public funding from the National Lottery through Arts Council England. James Paddock is an Associate of the Digital Arts Programme Eastleigh.

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