John Briggs has a ticking clock going on inside his body that is louder than mine. But who knows. As an MS sufferer with increasing immobility and pain issues, the challenge is how to make it to the next chair, not the next Bali holiday. John has found art as the story telling medium for his journey out of a successful graphic design business with high roller clients into a world of new ‘possibility’ – the name of his show at Jugglers Art Space on Feb 15. Sponsored by Access Arts, the MS Society of Qld and SWARA, John’s pastel works are strongly evocative with viewers held and moved by the emotion released via a staring self portrait, an ‘up yours’ middle finger tied to a “Bluebell” flower and “The Grip” where two figures are locked in a strong embrace. ‘Unframed’ could have been called ‘uninhibited’ with the aesthetic and the emotion on slow release settling down on us like some kind of gentle ‘grip’. One of the viewers related how he was held for minute after minute by a particular work [‘Think’]. Well known Brisbane sculptor and artist Terry Summers’ comment was that the art sold at some galleries in the high thousands didn’t come near this exhibition as art. The high end bought by investors with money to burn might make a space look funky for the cocktail parties on the 16th floor, but the art in this show brought us to our knees. The works were rough with corners torn by accident and intent, pastel smudges that might have been tidied up for a cleaner more presentable polished look and perforations from some sketch book tear outs. The unmistakably unusual element in this show was the approach John took in the labelling of each work. Each label included the name of the work, the word “Possibility” and a number of key words John chose to represent some aspect of the theme of the work so that viewer had the opportunity to explore the works as stories of possibility – not disability. As John returns to the UK for further medical treatment his promise is to exhibit again at Jugglers at a distance. This is certainly a “possibility.” Peter Breen.
‘Unframed’ – an emotional journey.