I've always found the Black Dog books interesting. I first read “I Had a Black Dog: His Name was Depression” and then quickly followed that up with “Living with a Black Dog”. Both books are a simple take on a complex issue and resonated with me instantly because I liked the concept of the black dog being the ever changing manifestation of depression, always there in one form or another the same way a loyal dog never leaves your side. Since that time I've been hiding my own personal metaphor for the black dog into my art in the form of a Black tear drop flying upwards.
After a while it became clear that I needed to develop this new addition to my work and the black tear drop slowly began to grow eyes, arms and even horns making it a lot more malevolent and, for me, a more accurate symbol too. It quickly became known as the blackworm and featured heavily in my solo show at Play Dead in 2016. Not only was it more prominent in the background it was also the main character in some pieces. On the opening night of the show several people spoke to me about the blackworm and I was surprised at how accurate their interpretations were as at the time it wasn't common knowledge what it stood for. I knew from that day onwards that the blackworm needed to stay.
At the end of 2017 I was preparing for my “In Quiet Desperation" solo show and was thinking about how the name Blackworm suggested something quite small and easy to control. I needed to add some scale so I did this by incorporating a silhouette of a man with the new larger blackworm towering over him menacingly. I also developed the character which now, in my mind, began to resemble a silver back gorilla with strong forearms and dragged knuckles leaning over the silhouette with quiet authority and ready to deliver a powerful unprompted strike at any time.
I've always enjoyed adding ambiguity to my artwork, allowing you to see different things depending on your perspective, so to see that an inverted version of my latest design looked like an angry dog neatly took my Blackworm journey full circle to the original inspiration of the Black Dog books.
My current Merch T campaign to get these t-shirts printed ends on the 28th June so order yours now before time runs out!! Prices start at just £13.
See more of the Blackworm here!