This is a mixed-media landscape painting on a 61cm x 61cm deep edge canvas. It is semi abstract and expressionistic in terms of technique and style. It is based on my day to day experience of living in the dramatic Fenland landscape of East Cambridgeshire in England. The word ’till’ is interchangeable with ‘until’ and I have tried to reflect both meanings in this piece. Working with the land is about understanding time and intervals of time, it is about rhythms of activity and inactivity, of waiting, of anticipating……until. It can also refer to a vault; a place to hold treasure.
The heavy texture of the painting combines gesso, sand, plaster, marble dust, bitumen and oil paint. The material and paint is applied with a variety of tools including brushes and palette knives. The surface is built up in layers and glazes over a period of time. I have been influenced by the contemporary artists Anselm Kiefer and Gerhardt Richter.
There are no hills in the Fenlands, but here and there low ridges break the flatness. In our fevered imaginations these 5 to 10 metres of reluctant altitude become the golden hills of a shared aspiration. Keen cyclists who have lived here far longer than they really ought to, speak of ‘brutally steep inclines’, ‘body position’ and ‘low gear momentum’. As painters, we take liberties with the time/space continuum…..creating our own interpretation of events. It isn’t a translation, its more of a transcription. Or maybe it’s the other way around.
I completed this relatively large acrylic piece about 2 years ago and it is definitely lighter and more colourful than my recent work. Generally abstract in terms of technique it is loosely based on the rhythms and cycles of growth seen in nature. I guess we all go through cycles in our approach to painting – and life – moving between what might be considered irrational exuberance and returning to the safe haven of sober reflection.
The surface is built up with impasto medium, combined with tissue, leaves, newsprint and card. In the later stages, translucent glazes have been added to increase the perception of depth and luminosity. I have long since arrived at the conclusion that my fascination with Cubism and Futurism is inherent in everything I do creatively.
In April 2018, I completed a two week residency in the New Forest. The residency was awarded to the winner of a competition organised by the UK based company ‘Little Van Gogh’. I was given the opportunity to work in a studio located above a blacksmiths workshop near the village of Ashurst in the New Forest. This was a wonderful experience in many ways and an extremely productive period for me creatively. I am still working on paintings and ideas that have developed from the residency and I will be holding an exhibition of the completed works next year. View my New Forest Series here.
This is a painting about perception and movement, about how we catch glimpses of the world around us and then proceed to construct a reality we can live with. I cycle most days – you know the bike is surely one of our greatest inventions – covering about 10 miles or so at a fairly leisurely pace. I enjoy being in and moving through the landscape, experiencing the changes in light and colour each day inevitably brings. Sometimes around this time of year, the sky is an intense blue and the warm sun flickers through the gaps between trees and hedgerows. Even at my pedestrian pace, I rarely register details, just a kaleidoscopic collection of shapes, colours and textures bombarding the retina. The futurists knew a thing or two about the art of seeing.
The materials include: oil paint, cold wax, metallic enamel.
I am currently working on this relatively large painting in my studio. It is based on the extensive fields of barley, maize and wheat surrounding the small city of Ely here in the heart of the Cambridgeshire Fenlands. I have tried to show the intensity of the warm golden colours we experience at this time of year and also achieve a lustrous paint surface. You will note that this work has little connection with photographic reproduction but is more concerned with the exuberance of growth, the fecundity and entanglement found in nature. The materials I work with are unconventional but offer the potential for inspirational outcomes if unexpected and unpredictable. The role of chance in a painting like this is critical and I am constantly alert to the interplay of line, tone and texture, that in my view, create the warp and weft of a successful image.
The materials include oil paint, plaster, bitumen, metallic enamel, cold wax, pumice stone.
A few days ago, a fire all but destroyed the Corker’s crisp factory near the small village of Pymoor. Corrugated roofing and metal bars twisted and deformed in the intense heat; debris from the wood framed structure exploded and fell to earth in a meteor shower of charred fragments. The air was thick with soot and carbon as a thick black column of smoke spiralled upwards and drifted across the Fens.
Today, as I walked along Adventurers Drove the landscape had forgotten the recent conflagration and fully recovered its poise and composure.
I saw a small house with a small boat at Ten Mile Bank on The River Great Ouse.
As a landscape photographer, finding a subject of interest can be something of a tall order in the flat, uneventful span of landscape known as the Fenlands. To say this is an understated landscape is to extend and amplify the understatement, to stretch the notion of blandness to breaking point, like so many yards of Christo bed linen draped across the Nevada desert.
The trick is to approach this bereft location with a ‘philosophers’ eye, if there is such a hybrid and luxurious faculty. If you look for the overlooked, notice the unnoticed, the inconsequential, the mundane and forgettable, resisting the overwhelming temptation to discard and dismiss the ordinary, you will find a reward. It is in the midst of this mind numbing ordinariness of unrelenting repetition and uniformity that ancient and long guarded secrets conspire to reveal themselves.
This is a large painting on stretched canvas (100 x 120 cm) using readily sourced materials; these include bitumen, plaster, wax, oil, bleach and enamel paint. The landscape of the fens is a difficult subject to represent with any degree of fidelity. It certainly fails in terms of accepted notions of pastoral beauty. Being primarily flat, agricultural and man made, this landscape exists without obvious grandeur and distinguishing features. Endless dykes and artificial waterways inscribe, demarcate and score the surface. Visiting the same locations throughout the year there is a sense of intermittent yet cyclical activity; the earth is repeatedly gouged, scoured, exploited, exhausted, replaced and renewed. This painting is an attempt to reflect those processes over time.