Stone and Water

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Painting: Oil Cold Wax and Mixed Media on Canvas

Size: 80 x 80 x 2cm

This is a cold wax mixed media painting on a high quality canvas frame. It is based on my experience of the Fenland landscape. It is not a visual record of a specific place, or a celebration of a well known structure or familiar location. I am interested in surfaces and textures and the way materials can be combined to create tactile qualities. Cold wax can be applied in thin layers or heavy impasto. It can be scored, scoured and burnished like a rich stoneware ceramic glaze; it can left dry, broken, fragmented and uneven.

“Bones are patient. Bones never tire nor do they run away. When you come upon a man who has been dead many years, his bones will still be lying there, in place, content, patiently waiting, but his flesh will have gotten up and left him. Water is like flesh. Water will not stand still. It is always off to somewhere else; restless, talkative, and curious. Even water in a covered jar will disappear in time. Flesh is water. Stones are like bones. Satisfied. Patient. Dependable. Tell me, then, Alobar, in order to achieve immortality, should you emulate water or stone? Should you trust your flesh or your bones?”

Tom Robbins, Jitterbug Perfume

 

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Close up detail of the painting surfaces

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The New Voyager

This work is inspired by the flat,expansive and mysterious landscape of the Cambridgeshire Fenland…a vast area of open skies and distant horizons, criss crossed by a lattice of artificial waterways…straight as an arrow.

I hope that viewers will be engaged by the layers of colour, texture and surface qualities of this cold wax painting and also that  they will respond to the physicality of this work, the numerous marks, striations and incisions in the cold wax material. I hope too, they will enjoy the interaction of disparate surfaces and layers and the sense of time passing through the landscape and through the painting.

This painting reflects a diverse series of influences; from the ‘art povera’ movement, through minimalism, expressionism and colour field painting.

The additional photographs provide a clearer understanding of the translucency, subtlety and rich texture of the surface.

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Detail from ‘The New Voyager’

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Till

Mixed Media painting on canvas:60 x 60 x 4cm

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This is a mixed-media landscape painting on a 60cm x 60cm 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.

Land Fall

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‘Land Fall’ is an idea, not a location. In Winter, when the ground is hard underfoot, the activity of man scores pathways and coordinates on the surface. There is little or no high land in Cambridgeshire, only a gentle rise and fall of the earth, almost subliminal, to be measured in micro centimetres. This painting is a rich, textured mixed media piece on a deep edge canvas; gold and metallic paints have been added to create areas of lustre and iridescence. I have attempted to take a range of photographs, some in raking light to reveal the ever changing surface qualities.

 
Dimensions: 60cm x 60cm x 4cm on canvas

Materials: Oil and acrylic on canvas, Paper, Graphite, Bitumen, Asphalt.

Mercurial

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‘Mercurial’ is a painting I have just completed for the ‘Cambridge Envisaged’ Exhibition; the composition, structure and style closely follows the other images in the series. I have retained the square format, recurring geometric shapes and warm tonality seen in previous works. The influence of American abstract expressionism is visible in the flatness and absence of overt representation; at the same time I have tried to convey a sense of the architectural qualities of the city of Cambridge. The painting is designed as a bridge between two different vantage points, an aerial or plan view of  buildings, rivers and parks and a vertical ‘stacking’ of these interconnected and interchangeable motifs.  The Cubists kaleidoscopic rendering of physical objects and space has liberated us all to see the world through our own eyes and intuition.

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‘Mercurial’ Close up detail

Cartography

I thought I would tell you something about my working process. My studio is a partially converted garage; I used to work alongside bikes, washing machines, lawnmowers and assorted gardening equipment but since I started to work on a larger scale, this became increasingly problematic. I was also receiving too many complaints about the paint marks on the ‘white goods’. Every painter needs space!

The inspiration for this series – based on the city of Cambridge – came from my many visits to the town. As a photographer, I must have taken literally hundreds of photographs of the streets and  college buildings and I believe I know the city extremely well. I have always admired the paintings of German artist Anselm Kiefer and I am aware that he often begins many of his large scale pieces by working over photographs. I began each of these paintings by working over small monochrome prints, using them as a sort of visual trigger or catalyst. I also included a range of collage elements to generate compositional possibilities and ideas. The fact that none of the original photographs are visible in the final painting is immaterial; they played the important role of ‘icebreaker’ and opened the way for new avenues to be explored.

 

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Optical Mantra

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This painting is part of my ‘Cambridge Envisaged’ series. It is a mixed media, abstract work based on the city of Cambridge in the United Kingdom. Cambridge is a world renowned  university city and the recurring motifs of Gothic arches and ancient doorways provide a visual rhythm, reflecting both the passing of time and continuity. The textures and patina of well worn stone respond to sight and touch. At this time of year, shafts of diffused golden light illuminate walkways, paths and enclosed architectural spaces as you wander through the colleges and grounds.  The river Cam flows through and across the city, below the ornate towers and spires, carrying new life and  old memories.

‘Optical Mantra’ Canvas size: 80x80x2cm