“I first lived overseas in 2012 working as an au pair in Paris. During my year abroad, I extensively explored the city. And, while inhabiting the role of both tourist and Parisian local, learned of a very interesting phenomenon, Paris Syndrome. This syndrome is characterized by an overwhelming sense of disappointment that reality does not match up to expectations that tourists sometimes hold of the city. Throughout my many trips to famous monuments, I felt that, yes, I could very easily see the burst bubble of romance in some tourist’s faces as they attempted to capture the perfect vista of the Eiffel Tour while trying to ignore other tourists attempting to experience the magic of the city at the very same time as they were. Despite the reality often falling short, I still took immense delight in discovering the city; the magic that seemed to lie in unexpected places, and the welling up of emotions that often took me by surprise. The sudden stumbling onto a scene that unfolded like a tableau that felt like I had discovered a more real version of the city than the actual city I had been experiencing. This encountering of the whimsically unexpected began to change the way I interacted with the places around me. Over time, I began using a camera less, preferred travelling alone, and would purposefully lose myself in a place to reflect on things that can only be truly examined when your comfort zone has been stripped away. For me, travel became about self-examination.
I’ve done much travelling since then and I’ve wondered about the nature of being a tourist. To tour a place is to create the tourist attraction. I have my own very complicated feelings about this simple fact. I want to inhabit, to experience, to take pictures, but I begrudge my own presence there. The early photos from March 2020 of monuments completely deserted was like glimpsing into a strange place where there was no such thing as a tourist. These attractions which are defined by being visited now could only be viewed from a window, a screen, or relived in a memory. Suddenly, digital visitations to global destinations began to fascinate me. I started stockpiling images that were less about the place itself, and more about the feeling they evoked in me; those feelings I got and could examine honestly when I travelled, especially when I did so alone. So, I turned to painting. Firstly, with gouache on board and then to the three-dimensional realm in ceramics. With my sculptural works, I explored the desire to collect and to find keepsakes; like little souvenirs from the places I’ve captured in my paintings. I want collection as a whole to come alive with the delight of feeling like you know this place, but I can’t be sure that you’ve seen it before.
A Very Grand Tour centers around my desire to teleport myself to new and wonderful places rather than to recapture the cities I had already visited. I wanted to create parallel worlds which were reality-adjacent. Through painting and ceramics, I could circumvent the plane ticket and travel restrictions and use the pictorial plane to go elsewhere. A place where only I can go, which is mine alone, where there is no reality to compare it to, that tells me everything I need to know about myself.