EARLY WORKS ESSAY
Christopher Monger, Los Angeles California 2002
Welsh screenwriter, director and editor
A human has two eyes, the information from which is magically blended and processed to give us a measure of depth and movement. But to be human is to look another two ways, at two different landscapes, for we look both inside and out and it is a lucky and complex mind which can marry these worlds. A walk through the world of physical things is dangerous – watch any child take its first perilous steps – but the journey inside is equally fraught. Our parents teach us to walk, if we’re lucky they help us swim, but few are aided on the inner steps. James Joyce, at the peak of his fame, took his daughter to Carl Jung. How come, asked Joyce, How come my daughter writes pages and pages of stream of consciousness and the doctors declare her mad, and I write pages and pages of this stuff and the critics hail me as a genius? And Jung said, That’s because you’re diving, but she’s drowning.
Shane Guffogg is a diver. Remember the movies? The guys in the suits, big metal bowls on their heads with small glass windows, attached to the surface by a long breathing hose – those guys led us to a deeper murkier dangerous waters but Shane has been down into our inner seas without need of oxygen – he breathes freely there – and like the oceanographer he brings back reports so that when we find these places in our dreams we will know that we share this place with other creatures, for this is our landscape, this is how we look inside. Welcome to the kelp forest of our souls. Welcome to the labyrinth. Welcome to the fluttering revealing concealing veils of our deeper mind.
Here is the dissection that does not harm, the mirror that does not distort. Here is the DNA spiral, the spliced gene, the open heart, the opened heart, the opined heart, the unoccluded occiput. To see these paintings is to see ourselves and be changed by seeing. Dylan Tomas said that a good poem is a contribution to reality, that a good poem changes the universe. Shane’s paintings are poems. But please don’t tell him.