This work came about from a desire to examine relationships in a wordless way. Rummaging around in a space beyond language I found pictures of people, birds and animals that appeared to speak to one another.
As I assembled my subjects together I noticed that each had a picture of a man or a boy in the foreground. The connections I discovered were curious, and sometimes surprising.
Making stained glass is technically challenging. The process is absorbing and tends to shut down mental chatter. The sensual and tactile qualities of glass and paint provide a perfect counterpoint to thinking.
I started cutting and painting glass without completing the drawings. Somehow, my compositions resolved themselves along the way. Menfolk grew into a series of observations about ‘maleness’.
My stained glass subjects are now fixed into long-term relationships.
A sleeping man gives rise to a baby orangutang reaching out towards a young couple. One perhaps in a wheelchair with a gold patterned rug over her lap. The tiny patterned squares that rise from the sleeper's chest include dancing feet and the profile of a gorilla.
Menfolk: Dreaming (detail)
I photographed Kieron in his hospital bed when he had thyroid cancer. The heroic way he bore his sickness and treatment took my breath away. Decorated camouflage and superman wallpaper surround him in the window.
Menfolk: Kieron (detail)
The masked boy is a recurring figure in my Menfolk series. His mouth is covered with a damask handkerchief; there's a chick embryo on his hat; and he's wearing my old school uniform - a pale blue shirt with maroon sweater. It must be after hours because he's taken off his tie.
The sad little boy is alone; behind him two gorillas and a series of Superman figures.
Menfolk: Boys (detail)
Portrait of Sir William Coldstream in knitted sweater, and young man with lizard and unicorn tattoo.
Menfolk: Coldstream (detail)
Menfolk: Mr. America
Menfolk: Mr. America (detail)
Menfolk: Passing (detail)
Menfolk: Cheek (detail)
Making Menfolk (video)
By Jack Criddle