Arthur Laidlaw

Family History

Jackson's Painting Prize 2023
Acrylic, Charcoal, Gouache, Oil
210 x 150 cm

“My work has always been a response to place as much as to history, personal and political. The experience of drawing and photographing classical sites throughout the Middle East, months before the Arab Spring, profoundly shaped the way I continue to see the world. In recent years, my identity as a European has been denied me by my own country, prompting my move to Berlin, and a reflection on the overnight construction of modern Europe, following the deconstruction of the wall. More recently still, the dislocation and isolation of the pandemic has offered up a subject characterised by a place’s absence. The depiction, transformation, and fading of memory is the subject of my work.

These are memories of places that have undergone radical and rapid political change, creating new ideological landscapes overnight. These are memories of my own belonging to a geographically diffuse, culturally interwoven generation. These are memories that collide with the present day, and the forces of exile, war, climate change, and a permanently shifted reality due to the pandemic. Every day we live vicariously through – and fight against – memories of ‘the good times’, and try to remain present.”