Simple Symbolism

It’s an intriguing aspect how we as human beings find different symbolism in different things. Whether it’s due to a sub-conscious link to past fond or fearful memories, or a more transparent and immediate effect on the brain in the here and now I’ve never quite worked out, either way, symbolism has vastly different effects from one person to another.
Take this belt for example. This is all about personal symbolism, and to the rest of the world will either be a likeable or ugly addition to an ensemble.
It’s a simple section of stainless steel cycle chain infused into a quite ordinary leather belt which I had made for my recent wedding. The leather element was hand made by Isaacs Saddlery, and is beautiful and simply crafted and combined with the chain element really makes a wonderful accessory. For me, it symbolises the joining of two people, as the chain joins the two halves of the belt, made all the more relevant by my own surname – Steel.
The chain is strong yet flexible, it moulds itself around the waist so freely it’s almost unnoticeable, and, crucially, does not take over the function of the belt (which still has a normal buckle) but merely adds to it – having much the same impact as a marriage should to an existing relationship.
Another simple, yet beautiful, example are these flower nails by Masaharu Ono. I absolutely love these, they are a very imaginative symbiosis of the hard and strong and the soft and delicate, all in a very simple form – really very clever.
Sometimes as artists do we focus too heavily on art history and techniques? On the works of our famous predecessors? Is there a human element often forgotten, that being the psychological impact that, to me at least, is a fascinating aspect that can just be explored and explored….cracking the symbolism “nut” and understanding the effect of art on the people around us is surely the key to art that truly works.

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