Hi there. My name is Will Kearney, I’m a musician, artist and writer.
Under the moniker Sand Snowman I have been writing, recording and releasing music for longer than I would care to mention.
Where did you come from and where are you going?
I was born in Cork, Ireland, moved to London when I was 18, left London 10 years ago and now live on the South East coast. Having been on a seabound trajectory for over a decade now a move into the sea itself cannot be ruled out, so I had better develop gills, and learn to swim.
What preoccupies your mind these days?
I’m currently writing a book, or at least *trying* to write one – it’s something I’ve been meaning to get on with for some time now.
The book is concerned with the Symbolist origins of Modern Art, and the culture that it grew out of (or against, as the case may be). I am fascinated by Symbolism’s forwarding of an “outlook” rather than a specific “style”( such as, say, Impressionism or Cubism) as well as what I would consider its ability to operate on a deeply archetypal (and Universal) level – I’m thinking here of how so many indigenous and traditional folk art’s feature animal/humanoid elements, the purpose of which is clearly for Symbolic rather than representational purposes. Likewise Symbolist Art abounds with Chimeras, Androgyns, and mythological beings, with a strong emphasis placed upon dream- reality, twilight, marginal and in- between places and states of being.
I also hope to examine what I would consider the major schism between “high” and “popular” Art that followed the First World War, especially in regards to vociferous dogmatism ie; Clement Greenberg (“Anything that isn’t Abstract Expressionism is Kitsch) and Pierre Boulez/Theodore Adorno (“Anything that isn’t Serialism is worthless”). This had, I maintain, a calamitous effect on both “high” and “popular” art, with the former becoming a pretentious elitist edifice reliant upon – and in control of – funding, and indifferent to anyone unwilling to subject themselves to an atrophied model of Art whose main characteristic seems to be an ability to alienate, irritate and rehash the kind of old- hat avant gardisms Marcel Duchamp turned out over a century ago.
Whilst “high art” descended down Duchamp’s Pissiore, all of “popular” art was condemned – Duke Ellington & Jean Sibelius were, according to The Serialists, no more worthy than tin pan alley tat. With its abandonment by what was recognised as the serious critical class, Pop Art – especially music and film – was primarily adjudged for its commercial value; of course there has always been a monetary motive, and popular audiences weren’t *directly* affected by edicts of Art critics – and serious minded pop culture criticism did follow – but a path was set whereby aesthetic standards were significantly diminished, and lowest- common denominator, market- driven drivel flourished.
What has occurred – with increasing velocity over the past 50 odd years – is that pop has repeatedly eaten itself; whether it has sufficiently digested itself (and disposed of itself) is another matter, but it seems to me that, in terms of content, the lexicon is limited. This in itself isn’t a bad thing, but I believe we are short- changing ourselves, allowing ourselves to be bamboozled by context – “the same old thing in brand new drag”, as Bowie put it.
Of course, this is a very broad brushing of what is a nuanced, complex and highly subjective subject, hence my reluctance to get on with it.
Name a favourite taste, touch, sound, sight and smell
Birdsong, the sea
Nature flourishing in abandoned industrial spaces
Fresh cut grass, Nag Champer incense
Describe one of your most vivid dreams or nightmares
I have recurrent dreams where I discover my home to have hitherto unknown rooms and floors. These are usually Victorian in design and in an advanced state of decay, with mildew and water damage usually present. These dreams are unsettling and slightly sinister but I rather like them as I’ve long had a fascination both for abandoned places and Victorian architecture and design – I often use the latter in my paintings, the patterning of which seems to have a not entirely friendly sentience.
Have you ever had an uncanny experience?
Yes, on a number of occasions ie; seeing/hearing people some time before they appear, having prophetic dreams and some genuinely frightening experiences that defy both description and rationalisation.
How does your sense of place affect the way you express yourself?
I’m not so sure if it does, really. I tend to be the same wherever I am, which may or may not be a good thing. Nevertheless I try and remind myself that it is probably more important for me to work upon myself than to look for faults in my surroundings. I don’t know who said “everyone wants to change the World but nobody wants to change themselves” but I think there’s much truth in it.
What has particularly touched or inspired you recently?
I’m always impressed by just how kind and decent most people are, or at least try to be. The news, twitterverse, commentariat etc do a good job of presenting everything as and in the worst possible faith – it’s refreshing how much we can agree with people with whom we don’t agree!
Tell us a good story, anecdote or joke
I hope this doesn’t offend any U2 fans….
*Apparently* at a gig in Scotland Bono was delivering a mid-set monologue regarding poverty in Africa (He could have just donated his fee, but hey ho….). He clapped his hands slowly, saying “everytime I do this (clap) a child in Africa dies”, to which an audience member shouted “well stop doing it, ya evil bastard!”