By Nick Grindrod
I remember standing in my studio after just finishing putting up my joint exhibition at the Circle Gallery in Sheffield wondering, what would be next? I resorted to social media as so many of us do these days to see what was going in the world. Scrolling through feeds of tattoos and cute cats, I was suddenly faced with an image that didn’t offend me, didn’t anger or make me want to scroll past as if I’d never seen it, but an image with such power that it buckled me and reduced me to a blubbering mess.
Being a father of two small girls myself, this image of a small child, curled up and soaked to the bones lying on a beach in Turkey had a profound effect on me. Ashamed of how little I’d felt about the plight of the Syrian refugees. I’d felt bad for these people, yes, but this single image had the power to affect my entire outlook.
The piece of work that followed seeing that small boy, Aylan Kurdi, still and lifeless but somehow peaceful was a hard thing to put together. I didn’t want to replicate the image and instead of it just being a political or social statement I wanted it to be an innocent piece from the view of the boy, what he might of thought was going to happen. The childlike depictions of the boat crossing, his parents and himself, happy, together. Even down to the soul being carried off by paper aeroplanes. Free from all the bullshit of the adult world.
When I applied to be a part of WITP and participated in the salon exhibition in London, Kate asked me for images of my work and a short blurb so that they could be selected. I had no idea as to the reaction to this piece. The conversations that I had with people who had far more knowledge about the boy and his family than I did really confirmed to me the impact that a single image can have.
I’m so glad that I had a chance to show this and my other pieces alongside some truly stunning painters and mark makers. It’s a real privilege to be part of the WITP collective. Looking forward to the next show!
Nick is “pretty much” a full time painter living in Sheffield where he works at Bloc Studios and is curator at the Circle Gallery. In 2016, he’ll exhibit at a joint show with Foster M (another Sheffield painter and WITP artist) in September.