Luke Norton, 28 year old Artist, opened his exhibition ‘I Haven’t Been Feeling Myself Lately’ at OXO Tower, where he displayed an impressive 90 pieces of found object word art made using several diverse mediums from the mundane (printed tissue boxes, sea shells, magazine cuttings), to the more traditional (cast bronze, diamonds and gold, mannequins), to outright bizarre (a motorbike fuel tank, a badger’s skull, and massage oil), and much more. These art pieces are accompanied by Norton’s own poetry which are combined in a way to create a spectacular mirage of emotions, fleeting or long-lasting, which is then applied onto a contrasting or fitting solid structural object which influences how the poetry and emotion is read.
Luke Norton’s objective is to take “poetry off the page”, presenting poetry in an artistic context. Norton has been writing for half his life, and though Norton’s journey began in photography, he saw more possibilities as a writer where he felt he could write whatever he wanted. However, he describes writing poetry as a “very fragmented process” and like most other writers, his poetry is unpredictable “some good some bad, some too weird for words. I like to write in bursts… I stopped going out or sitting down to write because it is easy for it to become staid.” Norton likes the spontaneity of making the poetry, sometimes writing on the train.
“The techniques are deliberately quite primitive or crude” Norton notes, inspired by art made by queer punks. His most challenging piece to make, the motorbike fuel tank Alive and Alone Again, was an interesting experience: “I scratched three verses of poetry into the paintwork with a metal spike. It’s quite interesting doing it that way, because you get so used to writing or typing, but it all of a sudden becomes much more physical – almost gestural, it’s expressive that way.” Norton is trying to re-sensitise a society he feels has “collectively forgotten how to feel” by engaging with the world, and as viewers witness Norton’s physical and primal artwork he hopes that they feel something “I don’t mind what people feel – as long as they feel something. Nothing really means anything – meaning is made in the space between.” Norton’s overarching message is one of hope. “Life is chaotic, art can help”.
In terms of the process of making, each piece goes through a different timeline: “some of them are old poems shown in new ways. Some are ideas I’ve had for ages. Some are just fragments filtered from the stream of life.” Since the exhibition was centered around Luke Norton wanting to reconnect with himself (hence the title I Haven’t Been Feeling Myself Lately), he sees the exhibition as an extension of himself “the show’s a collection. Pieces of a man. Parts of me splattered on the walls. Fragments of thoughts and feelings. Little gems of ideas. It’s not a poem. It’s poetry – it’s made to be encountered. It’s semi-autobiographical and there’s a narrative flow from chaos to hope. That’s a metaphor for art for me.” Art, for Luke Norton is a special experience that he compares to meditation, and like life, art is transcendent (it transforms the everyday). “The act of creating is magic and powerful. Making stuff for me is meditative. I think making art helps me better understand and express myself. There’s no better way of coping with life.”
Overall, Luke Norton is enthusiastic about the human experience, how we are ever changing, and that art is a solution to our daily struggles “everyone has a mind with hopes and dreams, fears and emotions, moods that swell, a heart that yearns. Ears and eyes that receive the world and something intangible inside that processes. We can’t be expected to understand or cope with the chaos and yet we put this pressure on ourselves to act a certain way and always be a certain person. I don’t believe in the idea of a fixed self. People are just energy moving about the world. It’s ok not to be ok. To have feelings and not understand them. Art can help. People care. Life is chaos. Art is hope. Feel yourself, everyone else is taken.”
02 Barge House St, London SE1 9GY
London SE1 9GY
Dates: 18 January 2017 – 29 January 2017