This triptych plays on parallels between medieval fiefdom, and millennial and Gen-Z disenfranchisement with the property market. 


(One 93 x 56cm oil on board, and six 40 x 20cm oil on board)

For this piece, I drew inspiration directly from life, marking a departure from the high fantasy, high fidelity aspirations of the paintings I had done before.
Towards the end of the last module at uni, I had been locked out of my studio flat for the fourth time in two months. This was due to a dead battery in the card reader on my door. 
Listlessly sofa-surfing between friends houses, we found fellow feeling in our distrust towards our letting agencies. I joked about doing a painting of my landlord as a medieval landowner, and depicting us the tenants as exploited serfs revolting in the background. 
This idea ended up materialising as the centrepiece of the triptych. 
Landlord Portrait
Oil on board, 90 x 55 cm
This piece is a satirical twist on Medieval devotional portraiture.
 In the foreground stands my triumphant landlord, holding an estate agent board. A gesture of ownership over his kingdom. In the mid-ground to his right is his castle, the estate agents office.
 It is a superficially flattering portrait, until your eyes stray over to the background, where you see a procession of protesting serfs, no longer satisfied with their sub-par lodging. 
They have taken to the streets with torches from home, lit on the agricultural pyre to the left where they work, and pitchforks taken from the tools rack just below it [1]. 
Guests from the votive paintings, such as rats and silverfish make a re-appearance. Silverfish become battle-horses for the serfs, their exoskeleton serving as armour. [2] 
One rat runs inside the water mill like a hamster wheel, while another taunts it with a piece of cheese woven between its tail. [3]
 In the top right hand of the painting, one arsonist serf reaches up to grab a shooting star from the sky to use as a detonation device. [4] The figure handing it to him is Saint Barbara, patron saint of explosions. 
The topography of the landscape and themes mirror those presented in the accompanying votives, making the triptych as a whole paint a picture of one cogent, imaginary town. 
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Bad Wifi
Oil on wood, 40 x 20 cm
‘Beatrix’s gallant attempt to court a noblewoman was mercilessly shot down by an unforeseen foe’
This painting  takes to task the bad WiFI in my flat.
It depicts a parody of courtly love rituals, showing a failed attempt to send a sext due to poor WiFi connection.
I am depicted on the right outstretching my hand to help give flight to a carrier pigeon, who I have enlisted along with cupid as my wingmen of sorts, to reach my love interest on the left.
The carrier pigeon has a wax-sealed envelope tied to it, branded with the infamous e-refrain ‘send nudes’.
However it is being sabotaged by the Dark Knight of Bad WiFi who grabs the arrows out of cupid’s perilously open sash and is poised to shoot the pigeon.
Unresponsive Emergency Service
Oil on wood, 40 x 20 cm​​​​​​​
“Hearken to the call of my bugle!” the maiden Beatrix cryeth out for helpe, but helpe cometh there none.’

This piece revisits a time I was locked out of my house because I left my key-card inside. I had food in the oven which posed a serious fire hazard, so I called the emergency service several times in the space of 2 hours but they never picked up.
In the piece, I am stranded outside of my house, with my key-card inside, glowing like a coveted object, and my fireplace ablaze and out of control. I am doing an emergency bugle call (notice the emergency flags) and sending out a carrier pigeon to alert the samara lettings lieges.
A semi-open plan balcony in the castle reveals a bunch of crickets playing a symphony - a metaphor for silence.
Cold shower
Oil on wood, 40 x 20 cm​​​​​​​
‘My lieges in hot tub take their ease, whilst I, poor serf, must surely freeze.’
During lockdown, my electric shower broke, meaning that I have had to have cold showers for the whole quarantine. My letting agents refuse to fix it because it is classed as an inessential repair, so it can apparently wait until after lockdown to be fixed.
I am depicted on the right making do in a wooden barrel in a frosty looking vault. A cold gust of air blows through the ventilation slats, spurred on by the fan in the chilled delicatessen below.
Meanwhile on the left of the composition, some aristocrats luxuriously unwind in a steamy bathhouse, with a servant bringing them tidbits. The place is kept warm due to an influx of warm air coming from the bakery below.
Spider infestation​​​​​​​
Oil on wood, 40
‘Lady Webb speaks with prospective tenant Iman about her plans for renovation: what will she think of the new improvements?’
This piece lampoons the poor maintenance of my letting company, playing with the idea that nature has more sovereignty over the property than do the actual landlords.
On the left, a fictional spider landlord, Lady Webb, gives a daytime tour of an empty property on the market (see the ‘to let’ sign outside). There is some talk of renovation from Lady Webb but she leaves it vague as to what this might entail.
On the right, time has passed and that same visitor is now a tenant (see the sign now says ‘sold’). She walks into her property, unbeknownst that in her absence it has been decorated by her spider overlords. One spider hangs from the ceiling, another operates a spinning wheel while another weaves a gothic tracery pattern in the window with its web.
Rat infestation
Oil on wood, 40 x 20 cm​​​​​​​
‘Dasha’s blood ran cold upon seeing the state of her kitchen. She put out a rat trap to the the little pests but alas…’
Dasha comes home to see her kitchen overtaken by rats that she thought she had taken care of by leaving out a rat trap. However these cunning vermin have dislodged the cheese and turned the trap upside down, and are using it as a cheese platter. They also have ransacked her wine collection.
Flood
Oil on wood, 40 x 20 cm​​​​​​​
‘It is a verie truth that where cracks may appeareth nigh a valley, a fludd surely cometh…'
This piece reimagines a flooding incident that happened to one tenant because her washing machine was broken.
Dasha and the vermin that have plagued her find themselves knee high in water (exaggerated for effect) due to a crack in the wall allowing water to flow in from the river outside. This is a communal laundry river where the serfs go to wash their clothes.
concepts
Most of my bodies of work culminate in a single outcome, which all of the planning goes into. This was the first body of work where I decided to instead diversify my practice and produce 7 different outcomes. 
The process for coming up with the votives all followed a similar pattern: first I would dedicate one page of my sketchbook to brainstorming different ideas, dipping into light research of the strongest themes along the way, and then eventually choosing one or combining them.
I always found that I had to substitute certain objects with different devices and cues of representation, in keeping with historical accuracy.

 For example, because the washing machine hadn’t been invented yet, I had to substitute a faulty washing machine for a leakage coming from the communal laundry river (right).
When I was coming up with the cold shower painting, I thought about my letting agents saying that fixing the boiler and radiators is essential but fixing the shower is not. 
This seems like a misallocation of priorities: if the central heating doesn’t work then you can just wear loads of jumpers, but there is no hack for cold showers.
 My mind then tangentially connected to a vague idea of a bad thermodynamics system which negatively impacted my serf self.
 I then did some contextual research into Medieval hygiene, finding that peasants would bathe in cold water tubs while lords visited elite bathhouses placed above bakeries, so the tiles would be heated. 
So I took this idea a step further by humorously contrasting a warm, well placed bathhouse next to an unfortunately placed cold bath chamber.
The most difficult to re-contextualise was the bad WiFi painting, since there is no straightforward Medieval equivalent for WiFi. 

So I had to develop an elaborate, extended metaphor which deployed common art historical tropes: knight on horse, carrier pigeon and cupid. 
By the same token, Medieval art itself operates more by allegory than strict representation, since the role of art was often devotional or didactic. 

So the process of transfiguring banal predicaments into whimsical tableaux means that my art ends up jibing nicely with the peculiar and esoteric Medieval sense of humour.

Medieval art also strikes parallels with the art of Ancient Egypt, where the scale of figures was determined by social standing rather than by perspectival reality. I took to painting vermin at human-scale, as concurrent with Medieval art. [5]
 The concept of the paintings featuring spiders and rats are strikingly similar to a Medieval carving that Janetta Rebold Benton describes in her book Medieval Mischief, where a poacher is roasted on a spit by a rabbit. 
These paintings all flip the usual designation of domesticator/domesticated between humans and animals; in doing so tapping into the incongruence theory. In art-historical terms, they subvert the Great Chain of Being conception of life and matter, thought in Medieval Christianity to have been decreed by God. [6]
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In explaining the prevalence of floral and wildlife accents around text (illuminated manuscripts) Veronica Sekules says: ‘the symbolism of mortal struggles within or against rampant nature is ubiquitous’. 
Medieval art shows us the primeval fears of a pre-industrial society; its perturbing proximity to barbarous nature. Just like poorly maintained property leads to the creep of infestation and decay.

The portrait took the most planning, being as it was the centrepiece.
On coach and train journeys, I would draw out different costumes and clothing styles shown in the books I took out from the library, and arrange according to who would wear them in a Medieval caste system
This served as an outfit bank for me to use when working on the paintings.
I then started researching the compositional methods of Medieval portraiture.
I discovered that subjects of stature were literally portrayed as ‘above others’ (much like Ancient Egyptian art) -
enthroned or fortified by additions of architectural enclosures
Generally, fictive niches or arcades as settings for Medieval images, suggest status and civilisation.
I established the symbolic power of my landlord by reconfiguring their office into a castle
I also re-designed the letting agents logo into a Medieval coat of arms, which appears as an estate agent's placard and on the castle exterior.
I looked to replicate the swarming chaos of Bosch’s paintings, and so I studied his flora/fauna/machine hybrids
I tried to come up with some of my own, with characters who made a feature in the votives.
When painting the sky, I took cues from Medieval cosmology which depicted the sun and moon conjoined, and stars like cartoonish kids drawings.
historical research
I realised that the discourse at the time surrounding landlords and the Covid-19 crisis would make my satirical art become even more topical.

My paintings dovetail with the Medieval Art Meme trend: typically quaint medieval compositions played off against ironic, hyper-contemporary references, to dramatic comic effect.

I would wager that the votive format, with the caption above and below, perhaps prefigured the Internet meme.
My lecturer did a seminar on humour in art. She presented several theories, some of her own observations, some by other artists and some coined by critics. Most of the examples she presented were contemporary, but the theories also work retroactively so I could use them to understand Medieval humour.

In the Middle Ages, literacy was the reserve of the wealthy, meaning that visual humour was more accessible and comprehensible for the average person. 
This class stratification affects the documentation and research of humour from this time: peasants could have told jokes to eachother, but would seldom have the means to write these jokes down or publish them. So what we ascertain from written works might only reflect the tastes of the upper classes.
The Middle Ages were often a violent and chaotic time, and this spills out into the bawdy and rambunctious visual humour [1] [2]
Practical jokes abounded, perhaps because society was so dysfunctional that a little bit of schadenfreude served as a psychic offload for ones own suffering/incompetence.
An example of this can be seen in this beaker design where a band of apes rob a peddler who is fast asleep, so fast asleep that he does not stir even as they start to steal his clothes. [3]
Another common visual trope included satirising those who attempted functions for which they were totally unsuited, for example, an illiterate working as a librarian. This would be a clear example of the ‘incongruence’ theory in effect.
This is the most common rhetorical device at play in humour, which involves a disconnect between expectation and reality.
A subtler use of the incongruity device would be this piece where some apes engage in a sophisticated human task, building a table together [4]
I took paintings by Venezio and Duccio into Photoshop to measure how they used perspective.
Venezio’s piece very loosely follows two point perspective
Duccio’s follows an even more scattered approximation of two point perspective. The perspective lines mirror eachother in an oblique fashion.
One of the most surprisingly difficult things I found about this project, was having to unlearn and abandon all that I have learned about perspective in order to feign a primitive understanding of perspective, to make it resemble a Medieval painting.
I ditched foreshortening most strikingly in the centrepiece where the background much resembles a wallpaper print or bad green screen job.
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