DANIEL FAWCETT Early Films Vol.1, Director’s Notes, 2019

DANIEL FAWCETT Early Films Vol.1

This collection presents seven early short films created by artist Daniel Fawcett.

Director’s Notes:

“I started making films around 1998 and between 1998-2003 I made approximately 40 shorts shot on Hi8 and transferred to VHS, this marks the first period of my life as a moving image artist.

Since the very beginning and to this day I have been fascinated and compelled by what seems to be the endless possibilities of moving image making. Back then I had almost no knowledge of the history of cinema. Other than the most mainstream films, the only work of alternative or art cinema that I had encountered were the films of Derek Jarman. He really started it all for me, before seeing his films I was set on being a painter but watching a videotape of The Garden (1990) one Sunday afternoon set me on a different path.

At first I didn’t know there was such a thing called experimental cinema, my reference points were always painting. I took inspiration from my books about art history, grabbing and mixing ideas from genres and periods very freely. I would see a painting that interested me and then attempt to translate into video what it was doing with paint, at various points I considered how to make cubist, fauve, expressionist, dada and surrealist films – I had no idea that all this had been done before, that for nearly everything that had been done in painting there was an equivalent in cinema.

I am glad for this period of naivete, it enabled me to find something of my own, whether it was original is not the point for me, I was searching and learning and created images that excited me. This gave me the confidence to know and trust my own creative instincts.

Retrospectively I group my work of this period into three categories: Interiors, Exteriors and People/Play – essentially films made in the cottage where I lived, films made out on walks around the village and films of friends. Everything was edited in camera and then altered and transformed live as it was recorded from the camera onto a VHS cassette. Soundtracks were either made in sync or created on a 4-track recorder and later on mini-discs.

Coastlines (1999)
My interest in land art and landscape painting led me to create a series of sculptural works and photographed performances about interacting with natural environments. I created several works inspired by Richard Long about walking and creating pathways and lines through the landscape. This film was created as a way of transforming those sculptural/performative ideas into moving image. Through the manipulation of the video as it was transferred from Hi8 tape to VHS, I created another layer of lines over the surface of the image.

It was filmed on Mersea Island, where my family lives, and shows a view out towards Bradwell nuclear power station before the wind turbines were erected.

Skylines (2001)
Similar to Coastlines in process but instead of looking out across the sea to the horizon we are looking up at the slow movement of a cloud across the sky. My obsession with colour comes through in all these early films, I am particularly fond of the blue of the sky here and the splashes of orange and yellow that burst onto the screen.

Cottage At Night (2003)
I grew up in a 500 year old cottage that stood in the grounds of a house where my dad worked as a gardener. The first 20 years of my life were spent there and its atmosphere and architecture has shaped me in numerous ways. The majority of my early films were filmed in and around the cottage, and this film documents one evening wandering the garden filming the exterior of the building, the moon and the shadows of trees. I was thinking of Van Gogh and how when he painted gaslight he would represent the patterns the light made as it glowed around the source, the video camera reacts to the moon in a similar way here.

Blue Room (Elements) (1999)
A fragmented document of my morning routine, my bedroom and studio. I didn’t see it this way at the time but now I think of this as a self-portrait, there are things captured about who I was then that I see differently now through the lens of today.

Black Room (1999)
My painting studio where I spent most of my time, I was a prolific painter creating hundreds of works on canvas, boards and paper over a couple of years before giving up to dedicate myself to making films. When we moved from the cottage I burnt nearly all of them on a bonfire, an action that I regret not having filmed.

Red Room (1999)
Another film that could be looked upon as a self-portrait, filmed one evening when feeling very depressed and anxious and in need of some activity to relieve myself from my teenage despair. Art has always had a therapeutic dimension for me and this film I remember as being solely created for that purpose.

Night People (2000)
Probably my most fully realised film at that point, Night People gathers and reworks various videos of the preceding years into an expressive fantasy of a night time wander around the village with my friends. My desire was always to make moving image works akin to painting – films that are expressive, colourful, personal and painterly but still representational – this is the closest I got to realising that desire.”