An interview with Andrew Reid Wildman
Photography of urban scenes draws me. I am attracted by its realism, its resonance with everyday life in all its shades. When I see a photograph of a rundown shop or a derelict building, it sets off a chorus of emotion in me; sadness, recognition, familiarity, nostalgia, mystery, danger even. However I need to be able to engage with the photograph and this is why I use a technique I describe as “photofusionism.”
In photofusionism, I use the photograph as a starting point, the core of reality that cannot be changed. I am fascinated by the borders of reality, the point at which it blurs into perception. For me the work really starts to come alive at the edges of the photograph. I seek to fuse the painting and photograph in nearly every work I do, in order to create unity of reality and perception.
When I choose my scenes, I look for an underlying sense of nostalgia. On a deep level, I identify with my buildings; their loneliness (I never paint people in my urban work), the feeling of gradual decay and ageing, their world weariness, their emptiness and sadness but also their solidity, their resilience and timelessness.
I see great beauty in urban scenes; the glory of red brick Victoriana, the solid ochre and limestone colour of stone, the corrugated iron and rusting metal of windows. I love the peeling plaster work of stucco and the black, inky texture of hot tar. My works tend to focus on places of great personal significance to me. For instance many of my photofusionist works depict Yorkshire. As a young child I remember the thrill of visiting Hull with its endless streets of tatty Victorian terraces, many of them already condemned and empty. I also remember the joy of York’s medieval buildings and the promise of cakes and toys.
In London, I constantly return to Maison Berteux, an old fashioned Soho cake shop with striking stucco that makes me want to paint it again and again. Other favourites are Edinburgh and Glasgow and London’s Brick Lane, all with their fair share of urban danger.
I very often add collage to my photofusionist works as I find this makes the work really come alive. I choose collage materials from lost decades, the 50s, 60’s and 70’s. This material connects me to the building and gives the work a soul. The cheery idealism of advertising draws me and cheers me, softening the sharpness of time lost with its eternal simplicity.