Wednesday, October 07, 2015

The Work of the Artist Anthony Stevens

Illustration: Anthony Stevens A Good Age

The present art world is such a large and diverse one, we are indeed lucky to live in a period of such intense and widespread creativity. Of course, the internet has helped enormously to connect so many of us together, allowing people like myself to highlight creative individuals as never before, and for that we have to be truly grateful.

One of the creative individuals that I have come across online recently, is the artist Anthony Stevens. Anthony uses his work as a form of therapy, a means of expressing and processing his life, both in the past and in the present, particularly as regards trauma and its after effects. As he says himself, his work is about, " dancing with my inner dynamics so that I can find a rhythm that is both constructive and wonderful."

Illustration: Anthony Stevens Modern Man

We are all trying to make sense of our lives, and to make sense of the environment around us. One of the best ways to do that, to work through towards an understanding, as well as finding a form in which to express that understanding, is through the creative arts.

We all choose the mediums and working materials that we are happiest with, and we all choose a general direction for those mediums and working materials. Anthony chose textiles, for the very reason that so many others do, because he remembers being surrounded by them as a child. It seemed natural to him to gravitate towards using textiles as his personal and creative outlet, as his connections to textiles are personal and long-standing. To be comfortable with a medium, with a form of expression is often a large part of the creative path. In order to find out how best to express yourself, find your best form of expression. It seems self-evident, but it can often be one of the hardest lessons to learn.

Illustration: Anthony Stevens Chew Your Own Tale

Much of Anthony's imagery comes from his practice of Nichiren Buddhism, and the chanting of "Nam Myoho Renge Kyo". It is whilst chanting that the artist tends to see images in his mind's eye, at times coming with an intuitive feeling as to whether the images are worth working with and creatively pursuing.

Many creative artists follow the same course as Anthony, they may make different paths, take different tactics, but they all follow the same general lines of creativity. Ideas and images are turned over in the mind, connections are made, outcomes are formulated, the foundation of work becomes a reality in thought at least, no matter how tentative. 

Illustration: Anthony Stevens Night Bird

When it comes to the actual physical creative process, Anthony allows the image to start its revelation, getting it to unravel its many layers of meaning to him. This is often symbolised ion the textiles that the artist uses, for example Anthony is keen on using striped fabrics in a lot of his compositions as they help to symbolise for him the ongoing drama of life and death, consciousness and unconsciousness. He is also keen to deliberately work with scrap fabrics. He feels that by using scrap fabrics, he is forcing himself to open himself up creatively, to allow the seeming uselessness of fabric pieces to show their potential. 

It is the connection between Anthony's creative path and that of his personal one, that he draws his artistic strength. He defines a direct correlation between how he strives to perceive his creative life, and that of his personal life. The artist readily admits, "As with life, it is sometimes a painstaking and frustrating process, but ultimately I feel joy and satisfaction with the result". It is all an artist can ask of themselves and of their path.

Illustration: Anthony Stevens Wake Up

Anthony has had both solo and group shows in London, Brighton, and Frankfurt. His work can be found at his comprehensive website - Anthony Stevens

Please be aware that all images of the artists work were kindly supplied by Anthony, and are not to be reproduced without his permission.


Diana Angus said...


Mo Crow said...

must say I feel out of my depth with this way of working...
there is a strange yet definite appeal in a voyeuristic, reading a secret diary sort of way… but…. why….?
curious about the attraction/repulsion reflex

John Hopper said...

I knew beforehand that this was not necessarily going to be work that would sit well with everyone, but I always like to be as inclusive, rather than exclusive as I can be. Anthony's work is part of a growing trend of men who use embroidery in order to express themselves. It is an fascinating development, and looks to be one that is going to continue to expand and mature as we get into this century. Stitch as a vehicle for expression can only ever be a good step forward for all of us.

Mo Crow said...

have you seen the work of the Australian artist Joy Ivill?
there's a playful knowingness in her work which holds a similar push me pull you effect...
have been researching Outsider Art in the last few weeks & coming to the conclusion that everyone working in the creative arts, no matter how well known or obscure feels like an outsider...

John Hopper said...

I hadn't seen her Work Mo, but I followed your link, and yes I can see the comparison. I am a big fan of Outsider Art, which is perhaps why Anthony's work appeals to me. It is interesting that you say that everyone working in the creative arts often feels like an outsider, as I have drawn the same conclusion. Artists are often seen to be on the periphery of the human condition, when they should actually be at its centre. It is just another element of our topsy turvy world, one that will have theorists and analysts puzzling over it in generations to come :)

Lyn Procopio said...

Dear John,

Your publication just gets better and better, more refined, more beautiful. I admire your daring, your generosity, your open mindedness, your descriptions. How did you get like this, so appreciative of all art forms? Were your parents artists?
Congratulations, again, for beautiful presentations, especially Anthony Stevens' work and how he describes the creative process and the ideas that come to him in meditation, and how the ideas grow and emerge little by little. Amazing!
Thank you, again.

John Hopper said...

Hi Lyn. Thanks so much for your comment, it is really appreciated, and I mean really appreciated. You always hope that you are going along the right pathway in life, but it isn't until comments from individuals like yourself, that you realise that you are doing the right thing.

My parents were definitely not involved in the arts, nor any of my extended family. I came out as an oddity within a blue collar background. I have no idea why that should be so, but there you go, life can be strange in its twists and turns :)

To me, artistic self expression is both a human right and a human need. How it expresses itself has equal value to me, whether it be fine art painting, glass, ceramics, textiles, photography, metal, dance, the written word, film, the list goes on. Personal creative self expression is the vital element, the medium is important, though secondary to that vital self expression.

That is how I personally approach the arts, whether professionally right or wrong seems irrelevant to me, and it is definitely how I will continue to approach the arts.


Unknown said...

Thank you for your kind words about my art, I adore outsider art, however I'm not an 'outsider' artist, I have a BFA (Honours first class) from University of New South Wales - Art & Design, I've spent 6 years at university

caroline juskus said...

Ant is fantastic... i love him.... his level of care towards people is unbridled... he champions the underdog with his wonderful pavlov and his acute observations of the world are so sensitive yet as sharp as the needle he sews with... he's one of the nicest guys ever.... and the world needs more people like him to push boundaries and perception in all forms of art. Do also look at Mr X Stitch and for those of you who love Ant, he has a fantastic exhibition in Hackney this coming weekend if you're in the area as part of a group show. He'd love to see you there