The Monthly interviews Belfast based artist John Baucher – Part 2 – Found, Gifted and Retrieved

You work a lot with found objects?

I have been living in east Belfast and in and around Loyalism and Loyalist areas and I have been working with flags and emblems. I have looked into the bits and pieces which make up those flags and emblems, and other things like pallets, and pieces of flags which have deteriorated. And by building my artworks from the bits and pieces which make up those emblems, I think I am able to create the possibilities for conversations around that culture which few other people are engaged with.

Jubilee vest (For Liz) Selected for the 193rd Royal Hibernian Academy show

You are not the only person looking at Loyalist Culture but you do seem to be look into the cultural elements of Loyalism in a very unique way?

In 2018 received a Maureen Crozier bursary through the Friends of FE McWilliams, and that gave me two weeks down at the Tyrone Guthrie Centre and I was able for the first time to spread out all my material, the flags, the eyelets, the cable ties, the bits and pieces of pallets, deteriorated flags, to put all my material out and really take a look at what I was trying to achieve. It allowed me the chance to play with ideas and thoughts. I had the time to explore and to play. Playing with ideas and material is very important. I mentioned this earlier but as artists we deal with rejection in our work daily. We make choices to produce our minds eye. I think play is a good way to approach the work as it infers fun, yes this is a serious business but that’s not to say you cannot laugh and enjoy the process. But don’t get me wrong,this is a very serious issue and whilst i am playful I am ever mindful of the sacrifices made not just by my own family (2 Army Chaplains father and son WWI & II and an uncle at Gallipoli) but of other. I believe that by exploring my own history I can expose my own lack of understanding, try to gain better knowledge and that by exhibiting the work it opens up avenues of discussion and broadens familiarity.

And do you apply that method to all your projects?

Yes to varying degrees. That said no one project is ever the same. Research on line and at the good ole Linenhall Library forms a major part of what I do. I often spend time going through the street directories from the early 1900’s. It offers a fascinating insight to the industrial heritage and history of the area and this will be part of a much bigger project I am working on ‘Acquisition Agents’ but you’ll have to wait to hear more about that (laughs again).

‘All front’ acquired by Modern History Dept of Ulster Museum

Have there been any other developments?

Any artist has a number of projects that are always percolating along and I am no different. I must be getting old as I have recently had to approaches from 2 different former “clients” to revisit work I did 20 years ago. That in itself is pleasing as it shows the benefits of longevity and an archive. It’s also pleasing that they came back to me after all this time. The work stands up. It’s interesting that whilst my photography has led me to where I am now as an artist and it is in a few collections, it is the sculptural pieces that are getting the attention and being collected. I am in very uncharted waters for me and as ever I shall try to maintain my independence and keep an eye on the horizon. Lots of nautical references there (laughs)

Where to now?

My film ‘Language of the Lampposts’ just closed the Other Movie film festival in Switzerland and I am in discussion with them regarding a follow up and a short residency but we shall see. I am also writing about my career and some of the stories behind the photographs, which is time consuming and dictation is all well and good but I have been left perplexed when trying to edit! So I have a lot of fingers in different pies so to speak, projects bubbling along, nothing really coming to the boil but I shall keep on keeping on.
It’s this or a real job (laughs.)

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