Love Hurts

2011, By JMW

A sea of red roses laid out in the shape of a large heart provides balm for the eyes on St Valentine's Day until those eyes light on the yellow-handled knife protruding from the centre and the trickle of blood which suddenly transforms the scene into a nightmare. There are echoes of the martyrdom of a purported St Valentine at Rome in ancient times, of the St Valentine's Day massacre at Chicago in 1929, the Khmer Rouge killing fields of Cambodia in the 1970s, though, more likely, the rupture in the relationships between many warring husbands and wives and couples living unhappily together right across this land which leads them to break the bonds on this very day. JMW conceived the artwork idea on February 2, 2011, but it was while subsequently sitting in the chiropodist's chair some days later that it dawned on him that the original concept was too bland and he needed to inject an element of shock into the sculpture. Hence the bread knife.
Executed largely on Monday, February 14, 2011, there are 111 artificial red roses (made by Floral Expert of Birmingham and purchased at Poundland) on an MDF board (B&Q) measuring 122 cm x 64 cm painted in household non-drip paints (Wilkinson). The old Sheffield steel bread knife was supplied by S. Ferrar, who also made a material mathematical contribution to the sculpture. Typographers may spot the odd-shaped "a" letter in the red title. This is not an esoteric reference to the supposed Eastern origins of one of the many St Valentines that abound in antiquity, but to a blunder by the artist JMW himself who accidentally got the "a" stencil the wrong way round. Once pointed out, it was too late to change it; nevertheless it adds a frisson of eccentricity to the sculpture.

To the right is a close-up image showing the knife plunging into the heart of the array of roses.