Stephen Farley began his career in industry and then suffered, what he felt at the time, was a tragic eye injury. Strangely, as the years have progressed his visual impairment has led to some of the most inspirational aspects of his artwork. To view Farley’s portfolio click here.
When your outer world becomes literally distorted and fragmented this begins to impact on your inner world. In a practical sense Farley felt a dramatic shift in his ability to relate to his environment. To begin with he felt bitterness and anger, however as time progressed these negative emotions began to transform:
‘Initially by dissolving detail I had addressed the personal issue of a sight injury which had blighted my lifestyle up until this point. Removing the figurative had become a metaphor for my anger at becoming relegated by diminished eyesight. To simply eradicate the actual in isolation seemed destructive, I had an obligation to my conscience to embellish my technique ever deeper.’
Farley began to use his new vision of the world as a way to actually express himself in his work. Instead of lamenting his ‘damaged’ eye he began to explore how it allowed him to see in an entirely different way:
‘There is a chasm of indifference between my left eye and my right eye, any paintings would carry the heavy onus of where the two worlds meet. Perfecting the technique of applying industrial resins through propulsion became a fitting metaphor. In order to address the subject of the painting the viewer is implored to peer through a lens-like layer of translucent mass. Embracing light and refracting it manyfold goes some way to explaining the optical obstacles my own perforated eye injury creates.’
From this point onwards Farley began to create pieces which literally portray his vision and experience of sight. His artwork is patterned with the distortions and shapes which ‘cloud’ his view of the world; ‘spurts’ as he affectionately calls them. These shapes are all created in a beautiful, faceted resin which is as pleasing to the hand as it is on the eye. He felt that touch was an important extension of the experience of his work and even went on to create some notable works for Blind Arts for the Visually Impaired.
‘Tactile exploration of my paintings is actively encouraged as in my opinion touching is an extension of the sensory affront of the work.’
This being said Farley’s work has never been aimed exclusively towards the visually impaired. His art has universal appeal because of its universal inner vision: exploring the world and his experience of being human.
‘I have not intended to aim my art toward those who have a degree of altered depth perception, this is merely my departure point. It’s not uncommon for me to spend weeks on a piece that commemorates a specific event that lasts only a few moments. Through my titles I can re-affirm that I’ve got something else going on, something which is relentlessly challenging. The unfamiliar can be a disturbing place but unexpected delight is true reward for a dedicated explorer.’