‘Pictures @ an exhibition’:
Title: ‘Summer wind’
The piece of music which has been a part of my working life this past year is ‘Prophecies’ from Koyaanisqatsi by Philip Glass (1983, track 6) The words are from the Hopi Indian verses, telling us what will happen to the earth if we neglect to care for it. To me, even though it is a dark piece, there is constantly the hope of a redemptive nature, nurtured in the more melodic organ solo elements.
My work is entirely landscape based. I am trying to convey how I experience the land / water. They are not visual transcriptions but marks and colours which endeavour to convey the experiences and emotions of being in a particular place. A painting of a place is just pigment of canvas, it will never be that place, it is the colours, shapes and marks which initiate in the viewer a memory of a time lived. It is the same with music, it revisits and stimulates the experiences within us. Music enriches and guides me through the most salient passages of my past.
The title of the painting comes from Frank Sinatra’s 1965 / 66 song ‘Summer wind’. The song uses the Sirocco wind as a metaphor for the memories of the passing of time and the seasons. The painting is viewed from a kayak in Anse Mejean, near Toulon, looking towards shore. It is a memory of swimming here and the sensation of cold water churned up from the bottom of the bay by the Mistral wind, unevenly mixing with the sun warmed top layer. Like music these layers are unseen, so one never knows what emotion they will trigger.
I rarely work in silence, music is always a large part of my day. It informs and stimulates my work and brings me deeper into the core of where the work comes from. It codifies all the ideas and possibilities that form the material fabric of my painting. If I did not paint I would write music, the construction of which is a mystery to me, thus, perhaps I enjoy it all the more.
Statement of intent
‘Garden of Earthly Delights’
My work has always been concerned around layering, both visual, textural and philosophically. I have spent the past number of years studying water, both as a metaphor and as a layered physical reality. Analysing an area of water and carefully separating out the layers, from the reflection of sky and extraneous objects, to items floating both on the surface and semi submerged all the way through to the muddied base for me is hugely challenging. The paintings were in general heavily textured and conceived as large scale canvases; 2 x 2 metres. However after my exhibitions last year I felt that I had exhausted the literal visual element of water as a subject. So I concluded that I would take all I had learned, the colours, marks, layering and using washes, reinvent them as a sort of stage set, all the time conscious of keeping the physical reality of layered water but framed within an abstract language . I have reintroduced the human figure semi and wholly submerged within layers of acrylic wash where the viewer will using the body as a sort of guide, be drawn through the layers of marks and colours into the work. The ‘Garden of Earthly Delights’ series of work, aims to meditate on the reasons why we are here, what is our purpose. We have only hints, philosophies to inform and guide us, these are the layers. We cannot comprehend the eternal mysteries which brings us back to ourselves, the here and now. The coloured ethereal layers being a metaphor for knowledge and experience and belief. There are no answers as we understand this concept, only the journey through the layers.
All the new paintings are acrylic on paper. The drawings are conte and watercolour on paper. Dated 2015 – 2016.
They are individually untitled because I wish them to function under the single title. Each one is simultaneously individual and not individual. Sort of like a fingernail is an individual element but also a part of the body. Maybe they are a remembered dream or nightmare.
The square works are 33 x 33 cm and the rectangular works are 42 x 42 cm. I would like them to be considered as a single unit. Again like a dream.
26 – 02 - 2016
‘Friars Gate’ text: 2016
My work has undergone quite a few changes this past year. I have spent the past twelve months mostly drawing, assessing where I had come from and heading to and trying to find a way to move my imagery and philosophy forward: perhaps I had become ‘unstuck’. I decided in the end to disassemble all the elements that structure the works, marks and colours and lay them all out, like the elements which go into making a house. Since art college, certain paintings by the great artists have hugely influenced me. Thus with my tool kit of marks and colours I decided to use some of these paintings as source material for the new work. In this exhibition Rubens painting…. I further decided that there would be no plan for the new work, no underlying philosophical modus operendi to guide me. Simply I just wanted to enjoy using paint and see what comes out.
After this the next stage was to redevelop what I had learned and push them further. A few years ago I travelled to the Yellow Mountain in China. This is a majestic dreamy landscape usually high above the cloud line. I did a number of drawings and took many photographs but could not figure out how to respond to its spirit. I noticed large outcrops of granite which had been surface dressed with huge red calligraphic poems. It seemed to fit in perfectly.
In the back ground there are also two poets who have had huge impact on me, T.S. Elliot and Brian Turner as well as the 150 Psalms.
Seeing where the paint goes
Watching the drips
Everything just melts into experience
How to paint something when it is much better to just let it paint itself
A mass of intertwining forms, marks and colours
Secondly the idea came from one of my favourite books Wuthering Heights. In the prologue, a journeing stone mason is making his way across some wild mooreland and happens upon a large outcrop of rock. He sees the posibility of a ‘Rude head’ within the piece. He carves this head and continues on his journey. I originally trained as a stone sculptor and carved a number of abstract heads. The carved head in the painting is me in profile. There are areas uncut and areas roughed out with a ‘Point’ tool, thus creating a rapport with the stone and nature. The figure at the side is me from behind, gazing past the completed carving and looking towards the future and the next step on my journey. The landscape is a direct transcription of the paintings I was doing at the time. My idea was to create a visual link between the various stages of my artistic practice.
I love the phiscality of the novel, of the charachters and the wild unforgiving landscape, some how I feel at home here in this lonely place with God at my side.. The painting is a sort of touch stone, a lot began and ended here within this piece. My work has always been a metaphore for our journey through life, my journey back to God.. All my work is landscape / waterscape based.
How do you see the relationship between this piece and your work generally?
As Robert Frost wrote, .....Two roads diverged in a wood, and I-I took the one less trvelled by, And that has made all the diference’.
Eventhough I completed similar pieces, this painting sowed the seed of my present abstract work. It is no longer a literal transcription but a more spiritual understanding of the feelings within me about being in a particular place. This self portrait is the yield sign as I approched the two roads.