Paul Finnegan - detail from installation, Artworks, Poole, 2004. Photograph by Stephen Riley
I recently heard, out of the blue, from my old friend, Paul Finnegan. We worked together for several years, lecturing in Fine Art in what is now the Arts University College Bournemouth, and we exhibited together on a few occasions at around the same time.
Paul is mainly a sculptor, but he also uses photography. He is best known for taking part in the (in)famous “Sensation” show in the mid-1990s – which launched the careers of Damien Hirst, Tracy Emin, Sarah Lucas and others, and of Paul himself – and for having work bought by Charles Saatchi for the Saatchi Collection.
One of the fascinating things about working with Paul was seeing how differently our minds and versions of creativity worked. As a painter-photographer, I wander around seeing the world as abstract shapes, surfaces and traces of human activity; as a sculptor, Paul sees it as the outcomes of systems or processes – real and imagined. Still living in the South West, he is currently studying for a PhD by Fine Art Practice at the University of Plymouth, derived from his system-based approach to perception and making.
The photograph shown here is a detail from an installation Paul made in a 2004 exhibition at Artworks Studios and Gallery, Poole, Dorset; a show in which I also had the pleasure of taking part. This particular piece of work comprised a glass of water, which stood in the base of an old-style 3D object projector. The image, of just the top of the glass of water, was projected live onto a wall. It was more or less motionless, looking like some sort of fixed, grey, circular object painted or printed onto the wall, but occasional vibrations from people’s footsteps would make it tremble ever so slightly, sending feint ripples to and from the centre. It was a very delicate and engaging piece of work with Zen-like qualities, which absorbed viewer attention in working out what was going on and watching for those subtle changes.
Stephen Riley: Artist/Photographer, Tameside, Manchester. December 2013