Remarkable and Curious Conversations

Curated by Cally Trench

Duncan Sellar
Self-Critical Badges

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Self-Critcal Badges by Duncan Sellar

Duncan Sellar
Self-Critical Badges

Duncan Sellar writes: In this project, participants in Remarkable and Curious Conversations were invited to submit criticisms of themselves to be made into badges. Submission was mainly via postcards issued to participants and returned to me at my studio. On receipt of the postcards, statements were hand-painted in acrylics onto origami paper and made into badges 3.2cm in diameter (as stipulated by toy badge-press). The colours used were chosen for their visual qualities alone. Contributors will be able to claim and wear their badges whenever they are put on show.

As well being motivated by curiosity about what people think, or claim to think, about themselves, I liked the idea of being deliberately and perhaps inappropriately open about such thoughts. I chose badges as a medium for their guileless feel, and because of the way they declare their content on behalf of the wearer.

I'm surprised by how discomfiting the results are: the contrast between the sentiments expressed in the statements and the jolliness of the badges' appearance often feels discordant. I'm interested to find out whether this will change when the badges are worn, and I hope that contributors will choose to claim and wear them when the time comes. That would, for me, be the culmination of the project and the natural context for the badges to be seen in. I'd be interested to hear other people's responses. Many thanks to everybody for their contributions.

Alison Carter Tai writes: I liked this project for its thought-provoking nature. I submitted four entries, two or more years ago, and Duncan made all of my submissions into badges, but when we met at The Remarkable Shed Party in July 2012 and were invited to pick up and wear any badges with the self-criticisms that we had submitted, I realised that I had got through some of my anxieties of recent years, and was no longer being so hard on myself. I just picked up one, and by the end of the day I felt I did not need to wear it any more. It was quite cathartic. So thank you Duncan for this inspirational project which led me to re-examine my self-doubts, and acknowledge with some satisfaction that I had moved on in my life to a new level of self contentment.

I live in a fantasy world half the time Not really an artist? Can't take criticism
Forgiving Were you generous? I don't work hard enough and I don't know what I want
I'm really very lazy If I had a brain I'd be dangerous If looks could kill
Lacking in self-control Live from the heart not from the head Ignore the past, forget the future, live now!
Indecisive butterfly brain Narcissistic Self criticism is a private thought
Why bother - it all ends the same way Did you listen? Tormenting
I need to keep in touch more Doubt I have no self-confidence
Perfectionist workaholic Not good at saying no, or hearing it My fear of failure is greater than my desire to succeed
Manipulative I should be more assertive Verbose
I don't tolerate criticism very well Anxious Give up & get a job
I am afraid of lions and big cats in general Criticism is my crux Beard neglector
Can't leave the past behind I don't know much about history or politics or economics Too self-critical
I must look on the bright side of life I reject your reality and substitute my own I must focus
I never know what I really want I waste too much time I'm not a proper artist
I'm not good enough to get on that MA I'm too self-critical Impatient
I'm too self-critical! My life is part masquerade My life is ordered chaos
Impatient Naive, unreliable and selfish Needy
Wondering, when will be the end? Pernickety Too self-critical
My expectations are not matched by my ability to meet them My mother still influences me I should be more self-confident
I should be more ambitious in my work I don't make enough money I am perhaps too nostalgic and melancholic
I am a sculptor, look at my hair Better to remain silent and appear a fool than to open your mouth and remove all doubt Obsessive
I play it too safe I need to take more risks in my life Patient Takes offence easily
I should believe more in myself Grumpy bollocks Vain

Contributors to Self-Critical Badges include Tânia Bandeira Duarte, Tineke Bruijnzeels, Marco Calí, Alison Carter Tai, Claire Deniau, Patrick Jeffs, Ingrid Jensen, Philip Lee, Andrew Markham, Martina O'Shea, Lorraine Pepper-McCrudden, Steve Perfect, Roger Perkins, Ann Rapstoff, Joan Skelton Smith, Cally Trench, Imogen Welch and Mary Yacoob.


Duncan Sellar
Dan Lovelace
Tânia Bandeira Duarte
Tineke Bruijnzeels
Marco Calí
Alison Carter Tai
Claire Deniau
Patrick Jeffs
Ingrid Jensen
Philip Lee
Martina O'Shea
Lorraine Pepper-McCrudden
Steve Perfect
Roger Perkins
Ann Rapstoff
Joan Skelton Smith
Cally Trench
Imogen Welch
Mary Yacoob

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