Connect>Create 2008

Ross Sinclair, 'Duff House #2' 2000, 'Duff House # 5' 2000

Ross Sinclair was born in Glasgow in 1966. He studied at the Glasgow School of Art and the California Institute of arts. His works, which have been shown across Europe and America, revolve around the theme of ‘Real Life’, and the many interpretations this term can suggest. Sinclair himself has described his work as a lifetime project and went as far as having the words REAL LIFE tattooed onto his upper back. He has often displayed his tattoo in different contexts, in his Real life series.


Sinclair’s Real life series has been developing since 1994 and through it he has explored concepts such as history and geography - ( real life and how to live it), Economies and faith - ( Dead church/real life), and politics and pedagogy ( R eal life/old school). Within these works he addresses ideas, such as, the relationship between an audience and their experience of the consumption of the work. He also explores identity: What does it mean? What does it mean to be Scottish? To be an individual, to be part of a collective identity?


The juxtaposition of Sinclair himself and the ‘impressive’ surroundings creates an opposition, which emphasizes the relationship between the two, rather than advocates one above the other. The impressive interior has an imposing air of tradition, with its gilded framed portraiture, large ornate mirrors, and the candelabra topped fireplace. Although Sinclair’s presence, bare from the waist up, in tartan shorts and revealing his Real life tattoo, actually challenges and subverts any sense of awe we may get from the surroundings.


He is posed in the foreground, on the left side of the photograph, turned away from the viewer. His reflection in the full length mirror is at such an angle, so we again can only see Sinclair from behind. The duplicity of his presence - in the mirror, with his back turned - repeats and reinforces his intent, to deny us any access to his 'real' individual identity through conventional means. With his back turned towards us he can’t be identified personally, as an individual, although his tartan shorts do provide a huge clue to his collective identity.


By Sharon Coals, student from the BA (hons) Contemporary Fine Art Course, Hull School of Art and Design 2009.

Document icon Learning article provided by: Ferens Art Gallery, Hull | 
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