Hardworking Man 2018. 50x50cm oil on Canvas.
A story of Modern Masculinity.
I’m a bit tired. I’ve been in the studio since dawn. I was there until late last night after a full day at work as Head of Luton School of Art which was followed by a late session at the gym - alongside other men working hard on their physical identity.
I’ve always overworked. It’s an attribute transferred from my father. He built a house in 3 years between his day job. When that was finished, we moved to a wreck in the country and he spent the next 15 years renovating it between his day job. He woke at dawn to work on our house or paperwork, he worked until he left at 730 to do his day job. When he finished at around 6 he’d eat and then go to work on our house again. Evenings, weekends, holidays.
For a long time it seemed purposeful and the epitome of masculinity. A quality attribute based in the idea of social mobility, bootstrapping our family economy through honest hard work and good use of the UK housing market as a way to change their financial status.
It worked. It changed our lives and our fortunes, and I’m grateful for the opportunities that it gave me. But it had a cost - everything does. As a grown man in my middle age, I also know now that purposeful activity provides a blessed relief from ones self, from the trouble of interiority; successfully undertaking justifiable avoidance.
I’m a hardworking man.