This is a large oil painting on a 122 x 92 cm canvas. It is semi abstract and expressionistic in terms of technique and approach. It is however, based indirectly on nature and more specifically on the hedgerows of the fenland in East Anglia. Trees, brambles and woody shrubs such as hawthorn, blackthorn and field maple create an exuberant entanglement of chaotic growth.
The material and paint I have used is applied with a variety of tools including brushes, palette knives and assorted scrapers. As you will see, the surface is built up in heavy impasto layers and translucent glazes accumulating over a period of time. I have been working on this piece for a couple of years now and it has undergone numerous changes; that is just part of my process. Some of you will no doubt see the influence of the contemporary artists Anselm Kiefer and Gerhardt Richter.
…..And what you thought you came for
Is only a shell, a husk of meaning
From which the purpose breaks only when it is fulfilled
If at all.
Either you had no purpose
Or the purpose is beyond the end you figured
And is altered in fulfilment.
There are other places
Which also are the world’s end, some at the sea jaws,
Or over a dark lake, in a desert or a city—
But this is the nearest, in place and time,
Now and in England.
This painting is currently on show at The Old Fire Engine House in Ely, Cambridgshire, UK. The materials used include oil, cold wax, bitumen, pumice stone and plaster scrim. The title is essentially poetic and does not refer to a specific place or location; my recent landscape paintings are a reflection of my understanding and experience of the Fenland landscape of Cambridgeshire. I am interested in the evocative power of abstract imagery to engage us and to challenge our need to find meaning and purpose in what may appear to be arbitrary shapes, marks, tones and textures.
‘River City’ is just a holding name at the moment. I know approximately what I want to say, but haven’t quite found the combination of words that will shed some light on the painting. I know that for some artists, titles for paintings are not necessarily important; some artists even decide to number their work sequentially, particularly with abstract paintings.
For me, a title can add certain qualities to an image, they often act as a bridge between the artist and the viewer. Interestingly, a random title generator is available free to use (see link below) which can be a lot of fun if you want to create something entirely meaningless and bizarre. I don’t think ‘Secret Ode to Lonely St George’ quite has it………..I’ll keep working on it and let you know how it goes.
Additional layers of cold wax, deeper black tones to build contrast and depth. More removals and reinstatement, but travelling slowly in a direction I’m reasonably comfortable with. Endlessly surprised by my lack of insight into my own work, I have to leave it for a day or two before I can actually understand what I have done and need to do… If I continue working without a significant pause for assimilation and reflection (preferably a few days or maybe even a week) I become delusional. I can persuade myself that bad work is good, that the composition is dynamic, fresh and original, that the colour relationships are challenging yet harmonious……..the list of misreadings goes on…and on………….