Jonathan Wateridge, Wall

Jonathan Wateridge interviewed for FAD:

I started the paintings in February of this year but prior to that there’s the whole process of conceiving the project and then set building; casting actors; doing the shoot etc. Once that’s all completed, I then edit through reference material before making a number of studies. So all in all, from conception, I guess the project has taken around 18 months so far. … My process for each project has been pretty similar for a number of years now. After a period of research and reflection on what it is that I’m trying to address with the work, I choose the location in which to set the paintings. That site is then constructed as a large scale set inside my studio. Actors are cast, costumes sourced and a film shoot is organised so that I can stage the performers or improvise with them in order to build up a body of reference imagery, from which the paintings are then developed. … I’ve never been particularly interested in addressing my own biography but I found myself thinking more and more about this connection.

The other factor was the growing tragedy of the migrant crisis over the last couple of years, and more specifically the sense of collective amnesia in the UK as to how these issues had reached this point. I realised that depicting elements of my own past could become a way of tangentially dealing with a wider set of issues concerning the west’s relationship to the post-colonial world. … Memory isn’t necessarily false but it’s certainly constructed. The idea of constructedness’, of things being fabricated or somehow false, is a crucial part of my process.’


Keats longed to find beauty in what was often an ugly and terrible world. He was an admirer of Shakespeare, and his reading of the Bard is insightful and intriguing, illustrating the genius of Shakespeare’s creativity. In a letter to his brothers, Keats describes this genius as Negative Capability’:

At once it struck me, what quality went to form a Man of Achievement, especially in literature, and which Shakespeare possessed so enormously — I mean Negative Capability, that is when man is capable of being in uncertainties. Mysteries, doubts, without any irritable reaching after fact and reason.’

Keats’ Kingdom


Quotes attributed to Morris Zapp in Laurent Binet’s The 7th Function of Language:

The root of critical error is a naive confusion of literature with life.

Hamlet is not about a man who wants to kill his uncle, it’s about something else.

Understanding a message involves decoding it because language is a code. And all decoding is a new encoding’.


Of course, I don’t believe this, but I like to tell these stories. I liked it when they were told to me, and it would be a shame if they were lost. In any case, I won’t guarantee that I myself didn’t add something, and perhaps all who tell them add something: and that’s how stories are born.’

Tischler, in Primo Levi’s Moments of Reprieve


On the one hand, these photographs sear us with the promise of their accuracy — as Barthes says, photographs are astonishing because they attest that what I see has existed’: In photography, the presence of the thing (at a certain past moment) is never metaphoric.’

James Woods, in his introduction to W.G Sebald’s Austerlitz

I recently was handed a collection of photographs taken by my father — dead now for over fifty years. I looked at it, somewhat confused. I suppose saddened by the passage of time. Even though I am in the photographs, the people in them are mysterious, inherently foreign. …

Who are these people? Do they have anything to do with me? Do I really know them? …

In discussing truth and photography, we are asking whether a caption or a belief — whether a statement about a photograph — is true or false about (the things depicted in) the photograph. A caption is like a statement. It trumpets the claim, This is the Lusitania.” And when we wonder Is this a photograph of the Lusitania?” we are wondering whether the claim is true or false. The issue of the truth or falsity of a photograph is only meaningful with respect to statements about the photograph. Truth or falsity adheres” not to the photograph itself but to the statements we make about a photograph. Depending on the statements, our answers change. All alone — shorn of context, without captions — a photograph is neither true nor false. …

For truth, properly considered, is about the relationship between language and the world, not about photographs and the world.

Errol Morris, Liar, Liar, Pants on Fire

Now … that story about Richard Hammond is not true. But I feel that what it tells us about Richard Hammond is true.

Stewart Lee, If You Prefer A Milder Comedian Please Ask For One

Her consciousness, at this point — she was forty-three years old — was so crammed full not just of her own memories, obligations, dreams, knowledge and the plethora of her day-to-day responsibilities, but also of other people’s — gleaned over years of listening, talking, empathising, worrying — that she was frightened most of all of the boundaries separating these numerous types of mental freight, the distinction between them, crumbling away until she was no longer certain what had happened to her and what to other people she knew, or sometimes even what was or was not real.

Rachel Cusk, Outline


In Geoffrey Chaucer’s Nun’s Priest’s Tale,” the rooster Chaunticleer dreams of a threatening fox invading the barnyard, whose color was betwixe yelow and reed.” The fox was orange, but in the 1390s Chaucer didn’t have a word for it. He had to mix it verbally. He wasn’t the first to do so. In Old English, the form of the language spoken between the 5th and 12th centuries, well before Chaucer’s Middle English, there was a word geoluhread (yellow-red). Orange could be seen, but the compound was the only word there was for it in English for almost 1,000 years. …

But none of this actually gets us to color. Only the fruit does that. Only when the sweet oranges began to arrive in Europe and became visible on market stalls and kitchen tables did the name of the fruit provide the name for the color. No more yellow-red.” Now there was orange. And, remarkably, within a few hundred years it was possible to forget in which direction the naming went. People could imagine that the fruit was called an orange simply because it was.

David Scott Kastan with Stephen Farthing, On Color