1994-1996 Royal College of Art, London, MA 1990-1993 Gray’s School of Art, Aberdeen, BA
Cranston is a storyteller of sorts, without a clear story to tell. His work is seductive in terms of its use of narrative and humour, but it is the humour of Samuel Beckett or Buster Keaton, always touching on the strangeness and pathos of ordinary life. Often working directly onto hardback book covers his work is not pre-conceived but emerges through the manipulation of materials – paint, varnish, collage – and the suggestions that this activity provokes, layering and re-working the images until something essential coalesces.
For Cure3, Cranston hides the cube under his signature material: book covers; cladding it and darkening the space with only a peephole carved out that invites us to look in. At the back of the cube is a beautiful little landscape painting of a House with Green Shutters: void of life, the house and landscape emerge as in a dream or a distant memory.
Cranston says about the painting: “it is in response to the 1901 novel ‘The House with the Green Shutters’ by George Douglas Brown, which explores the alienation and intimate bitterness of characters in a small Scottish town. Central to the story is the motif of the house and its function as a status symbol to the novel’s main character. Somehow it seemed to fit naturally into the theatrical space of the inside of the cube. I read with interest that ‘The House with the Green Shutters’ was the first English language book read by the Argentinian writer Jorge Luis Borges. That the concerns of a community in rural Victorian Ayrshire should resonate with a young boy in Buenos Aires seems remarkable. Borges went blind later in life but recalled in a 1966 interview in The Paris Review that “when I read The House with the Green Shutters I wanted to be Scotch`”. Thinking of blind Borges gave me another reason to darken the space and play with visibility.”