About the Book
In Famous Fences, Samuel Connor draws reference from a recent trip to Los Angeles;
"According to my guidebook, one of the must-do’s of Los Angeles is the famous Starline Tours. In true tourist form, I waited my turn in the queue at the ticket booth with a multitude of celebrity hunters from across the globe. Whilst on the tour I was astonished at the lengths people would go simply to capture the perfect shot of Ozzie Osborne’s gate or David and Victoria Beckham's rooftop. I tried to take as many digital snapshots as possible of anything (supposedly) related to the world of celebrity on this tour however the entire authenticity of the celebrity ownership of the fences is open to scrutiny. The viewer is tricked into believing that each fence is that of a celebrity, but at what stage will the viewer step back and ask themselves if these fences do actually belong to the celebrity and, furthermore, why should they even care? "
Jean Baudrillard points out that in our postmodern culture we have lost the ability to distinguish between the reality and the simulacrum. One phenomenon Baudrillard attributes to this is our media culture. Not only do our contemporary media relay information and stories, but they interpret this for us. Our acquisition of goods is not due to a real need but rather to fulfil a desire defined by advertising. Becoming distanced from a physical, non-media reality, we are closer to a media-orientated cultural space (Baudrillard 1994). It is this commercialisation that has rooted a longing for fame and an obsession with celebrity, we even witness a power struggle within their fences. The tourist style snapshots are accompanied by a series of drawings based on some of the famous fences and dealing with issues above and beyond the celebrity also.
I was raised in the village of Upperlands, Northern Ireland, a village famous for two things; firstly, Upperlands is the world's oldest linen village. With the textile industry still present, I have always had a passion for working with and investigating materials, particularly ones found and used such as ironing board covers. Secondly, one of its sons, Charles Thomson, was an original signatory of the American Declaration of Independence. Rich in political history, today Upperlands expresses its Unionist belief annually on July 12th with a vast array of road painting and flags. This constant need for enveloping an entire village in one identity has forever intrigued me and served as a point of research for my work. Most importantly, my work provides a social commentary on the human desire for more, the will for power. Not life changing, victimising or memorialising; merely underscoring an entirely natural instinct.