How I make my work explains my painting and drawing, which has become autobiographical. I use it for self-analysis, personal inquiry and healing. I move to and fro in time, viewing things with a slow eye, like Proust.

Paint fling at Studio Dedman Alan Dedman
Paint fling

Time is a human thought construct we choose to accept, making us feel better about being here. Everything that ever did happen, will happen and is happening goes on in one great universal dance. To experience this would be mind blowing. Perhaps that’s what Hindu and Buddhist scriptures allude to when they speak of Moksha, Enlightenment,Samadhi, Brahman etc.

Hindu god shiva alan dedman yoga for blokes
The Hindu god Shiva

We are obliged to bumble about between births, peeking through a window of consciousness; that’s all we can take at any given moment. My early life wasn’t ideal, parts of it are hazy. Recollection gets me closer to demons I want to exorcise.

Alan Dedman cutting up steel tanks
Slicing up steel tanks

Artists are visual, working with images and imagination. ‘Bums and mad dogs’ takes me to 1969, re-visiting boyhood as I painted large images of snarling dogs and bums on bus garage doors, partly to annoy my overbearing father also to park a rabid dog between my arse and sexual predators.

Making it for studio1.1 Glyph for a bum Alan Dedman
Glyph for a bum in fertilizer paste on galvanised steel

I can hear sparrows chirruping and arguing. I can hear the large steel doors as they banged and rumbled whilst I painted on them. I stand in front of Petra, our neighbour’s Jack-Russell, kept on a chain. He would charge at you, the chain would pull him up, barking and snarling with demented ferocity, saliva drooling from his jaws. Black, pink and purple gums, sharp white teeth.

Bus garage in Norfolk Alan Dedman
Bus garage in Norfolk where I first painted Bums & mad dogs in 1969

Revisiting my experience I dismembered steel tanks and made up fertilizer paste, juxtaposing images of mad dogs with my glyph for a bum, painting several images in a sequence. Looking back, it was brutal, manic and industrial – which is how I make my work.

How I make my work a cadged steel tank after being cut up
The remains of a steel tank

‘Me and my M60’ also draws on childhood imagery. My dad would never play football but kept me supplied with toy guns. One of which was called a ‘Copter Squad Gun’. Basically it was a plastic model of an M60. These weapons were designed for use from helicopters in the Vietnam war. My toy had a bipod and ammo belt, just like the real thing.

How I make my work High Bird Alan Dedman
High bird (not Helen Mirren)

Stuck between a rock and a hard place, I remained at St. Martins School of Art. To help exorcise demons from back then, I got myself a real M60 (twelve kilogrammes, nothing like my toy) and posed around with it it in a bunker full of guns. About twenty thousand guns, security like Fort Knox.

Entrance to st. martins alan dedman
Entrance to St. Martins School of Art

I enjoyed creating a montage, positing a photo-realist image against a background of paint fling. Like the hundreds and thousands on those 1960s ‘Fab’ ice lollies, it somehow says ‘Hey! Let’s party!’

A fine June morning Alan Dedman
A fine June morning at Studio Dedman

On a fine June morning, unlike Tracy Emin – I didn’t go to my studio thinking ‘how can I make something nice and beautiful?’ Maintaining a spirit of West End trés jolie, I produced a visual essay on willys. My attitude was: ‘How can I be as stupid as possible to alleviate the crushing boredom of another day in paradise?’ Answer: draw loads of willys.

How I make my work Who is the real Willy? Alan Dedman
Who is the REAL Willy?

So I did. Which was a lark, but when I’d filled thirty two square feet of canvas with a teeming chorus of bell-ends, the Classical simplicity of my creation had an ersatz feel, similar to the attire of concentration camp victims. Colouring in became necessary. That’s how I make my work!

How I make my work Colouring in Alan Dedman
Colouring in became necessary

Filling counterspaces between each schlong with bold, joyous hues re-kindled a party atmosphere, allowing me to confront another demon (my circumcision when I was eighteen months of age). It also enables me to comment about MGM which is completely overlooked by our warped and biased media.

I didn’t know it then, but I was weaving back and forth in time, getting closer to some grisly realities. It’s a type of Realism in the form of a joke. I’m taking the piss out of myself (a rare thing for anyone these days) simultaneously posing a political question.

Pic of studio1.1 57a Redchurch Street Alan Dedman
57a Redchurch Street

You can see these artworks in a group show at studio1.1 ‘This Year’s Model ’24, part II’ runs from the 4th of April to the 28th. ‘Where’s Willy?’ is in the form of a gicleé print (the original is approximately 4x8ft), ‘Me and my M60’ is also a gicleé print. ‘Bums and mad dogs’ (part of a series) is in fertilizer paste, acrylic paint and pencil on galvanised steel. POA via the contact form below or at the gallery.         

Special thanks to:

Alex and Vicky
Jonathan Ferguson
Chris Dee