This work, created over a stretch of four weeks in October 2015, is one of my so-called ‘sculptural multi-layered woodcuts’: it is built up from several layers of wood and combines my trademark woodwork & woodcarving craft with specially developed painting and pigmenting techniques as well as the application of semi-translucent resin in some parts.
“The Milkman Of Human Kindness”, the title of the work, quotes a song by artist Billy Bragg from 1983. During the creation of the work, the song subconsciously crawled back into my head. I listened to it a lot during the punk-driven early 80ies back in school; I wholeheartedly admired Billy Bragg for his straightforward music and his strong political attitude.
My work however is not about punk. The song (for me at least) has always been about compassion and about being there for someone who is having a bad time. Shakespeare’s Lady Macbeth criticizes her husband for being too compassionate with the words: “Yet do I fear thy nature; It is too full o' the milk of human kindness“, and this expression has since been used as a paraphrase for the care and compassion for others. And taking this (freely) a stepfurther: If there is such a thing as the milk of human kindness, there may as well be a milkman delivering it to your doorstep, right?
And this is what my work is about. I will not go and explore this in writing too deeply here, because that can easily become an evening-long talk I hope to have with many people personally. While I actually tell a story with every work I create, you may see different angles and aspects in it that I don’t want to take away from you by elaborating on theartwork already too much beforehand. It is important to me as an artist that the viewer has every opportunity to explore my work independently.
What I will say though is that for me, nature (bear, mountains) and technology (telegraph poles) are an integral part of this piece. There is a huge conflict between the two, mainly in the struggle we’re living to try and find harmony (or balance) between both. While I am not necessarily aiming at the environmental issue here, in my work this struggle is rather a symbol for the larger battles humanity is currently fighting, most presently in the terrible wars that result in people losing their home and having to flee their countries to save their lives and those of their families.
I have been using the bear many times in my work before. You may say that it has become some kind of spirit animal to me and it definitely has significance as to my role within my own loving and caring family. Which is not the point, really, but may explain the importance of the imagery of the sleeping animal for the understanding of the artwork.
I hope I haven’t said too much, and didn’t confuse you either. I wish you will enjoy “The Milkman Of Human Kindness” as much as I did creating it.
If you are sleeping, I will wait
If your bed is wet, I will dry your tears
I love you, I am the milkman
Of human kindness
I will leave an extra pint
Jörg Heikhaus (aka Alex Diamond), October 2015
Below are some details from the work, and here you can find images from the work in progress