1998 : Landscape paintings (from ‘Landscape And Art Network’ newsletter)
Landscape is one of the subjects I use to contain my visual explorations and inventions.
Like many painters, I used to work in the landscape itself, searching for some significant view that would act somehow as visual inspiration. However, my efforts could never match nature which proved to be too powerful and overwhelming, leaving me unconvinced and unable to create anything of interest.
It was not until ideas, relating to other aspects of my work, and which were slowly evolving, seemed equally applicable to thinking and feeling about landscape, albeit from a different angle, that this sense of impotence lifted. I had become increasingly intrigued by paradox – visual irony – the combination of opposites; for example: features/depth; reality/illusion; abstraction/figuration; past/present – all of which were like sub-plots, as it were to the main feeling and overall idea which I wanted to synthesize.
Thus at the heart of most of my work is the attempt to make an image, not one that I have made or seen before, but nevertheless one preparing to make itself visible. The image related to either an experience and/or ideas about an experience and/or ideas about an experience of memory, whilst simultaneously itself being a unique autonomous entity.
I do not want to illustrate, rather to discover, and so do not want to know what the image would like to be until well into the work, when recollection of the experience takes command, becomes specific and determines its future.
So, nowadays, the landscapes I paint are not my response to having them in front of me but rather the development of a memory or an idea of an experience. Some subjects would be: walking out of the sun into deep darkness of a forest; the idea of the march wind blowing seeds: spinneys of trees; autumn dew; burning fields; the power of sea, swell, waves and spume. The very nature of these differing subjects requires varying degrees of depiction, texture and scale – from 270 x 66 inches down to 12 x 12!
There are two other groups of landscape prompted by the human presence. Firstly, a series on mediterranean villages that have grown out of the soil and subsequently disintegrated back again to soil as a result of the population moving to the cities. Secondly, a series inspired by an old woman who lived in one of these villages. She was 85 years old and the last inhabitant. Her son visited her three times a week bringing bread and wine, and every evening she sat on a rock overlooking what was left of her village in silent reverie.
Within these various landscapes are different kinds of space. Deep space: sky, receding perspectives; shallower space: forest, spinneys; shallower still: urban interiors; and finally a kind of microscopic space with little sense of scale – no top, bottom or side – analogous to looking straight down at the soil. Some of these works are juxtaposed in the same work.
Lastly materials: I use acrylic paint and a medium which can bind soil, sand, collage to canvas, paper, plywood or board. The works can be in the form on a diptych or a triptych, rectangular or shaped.