Since graduating from the Royal College of Art in 2006, Bridgland has used a diverse range of materials and working methods to pursue an incisive and often witty exploration of distinctively British sentiments, externalising the underlying sense of loss and nostalgia that permeates our memories. Vignettes of British back-packer’s holidays, old-fashioned bus-tours, and childhood seaside breaks that figure strongly in his visual repertoire are often tinged with this feeling of time having passed too quickly, our memories gradually fading. Twinned with this however, is an upbeat celebration of themes distilled from children’s colouring books, paint-by-numbers kits, old public transport posters and kitsch postcards, which he imbues with the kaleidoscopic richness of carefully chosen and thickly applied primary colours. These everyday, almost mundane subjects are treated with the importance and status of emblems; centred in each work and often encapsulated within related text or target-like circular borders that focus our gaze. Whether descriptive of change or constancy, Bridgland’s work keys into our desire to remember and relive, and plays upon our tendency to elevate our shared memories with the rose-tinted, wistful spectacles we don when thinking of the past, as well as the future. His depictions of identity and belonging, nostalgia and emotion give to his work a hugely personal aspect, and are influenced by a graphic and visual tradition that is quite specific to Britain. Yet his subtle combinations of image and related text play on everyone’s perceptions of shared occasions. Perhaps then it is the delicately précised power of the experiences he attempts to capture that make Bridgland’s work so accessible to all.
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