Blighter is a deeply personal work, a way for me to process the history of my people, where I come from, and through this questioning of history, figure out where we are going and what we want to achieve. However, it is my hope that by peering through the prism of part of my ancestral history that the work might provide a broad contextual view of the plight of English and Irish people. My Irish descendants were affected by mass starvation and forced migration from their homelands over 160 years ago. Colonial tactics of divide and rule (under the ruse of Christianity) continued for those of my relatives who stayed on the island, resulting in sectarian violence which again forced many family members to flea their ancient homelands in search of prosperity and relative safety someplace else. We see the same tactics of colonial terror being used by (((Empire))) to this very day in various complex ways. Usury, heavy taxation, crap food, liberal ideology being pumped out 24 hours a day through the TV and Radio, to name but a few tactics used by the powers that be to suppress and enslave us.
An integral part of my process with regards to Blighter has involved redacting a book written by Fredrick Engels entitled, The Condition of the Working Class in England. Engels lived and worked in my hometown of Manchester for 30 years during the middle of the 19th Century. The book is recognized as an invaluable, historical, social document, regarding the lives of working people in England (particularly Manchester) during the time of the British Industrial Revolution. But he was trying to make out as if he was sympathetic, almost a champion of the people, the workers. I reckon the opposite was true. His writing and thoughts were funded by the elites of his time, for the purposes of retaining both power and wealth.
My decision to carve potatoes into feet stems from the Engels quote: “shoes they know not”. The image of bare-feet is extremely evocative of poverty, primitiveness and squalor. Even today, within the collective psyche of many who deem themselves civilized there is a stigma attached to having no shoes. By carving feet I am also, in a deadpan manner, playing with the colonial notion of Ireland having the last forms of primitive life in the so- called western world.