b. 1963, Chichester, UK
1980-82 Diploma in Art and design W.S.C.D 1982 - 85 BA (Hons) Fine Art and Printmaking, Cardiff University.
I grew up just outside Chichester in the 1960’s and 70’s. My formative years were spent in the shadow of the South Downs walking, cycling and exploring the landscape as a child. After finishing my degree in Cardiff, I spent the bulk of my adult life living in cities; London, Barcelona, Nijmegen in Holland and most recently Brighton. In 2015, I relocated back to the countryside where I started, still in the shadow of the South Downs in the Sussex Weald, with a studio in Laughton; a small village just East of Lewes.
I paint to reflect my own experience mixing the past with the present. I see the places where I have lived as they change and develop both in physical terms and in a wider social and political context. My work is a visual record of these concerns and I hope that by documenting my memories of the past, I can offer a counterpoint to the future. Rather than make ‘protest’ paintings, as I did when I was younger, now I prefer to concentrate on positive experiences allowing the viewer to reflect on how the past compares with the present and on how we might like things to be in the future. While I concentrate on beauty as I see it and remember it, I’m not attempting to portray an Arcadian vision but to encourage thought about how we want our environment to be.
The canvasses are made from scratch using soft wood from sustainable European sources. I like to be involved in the making of them as I feel it gives me a firmer relationship with the finished object than I would have if I bought them ready-made. It also allows me control over the sizes rather than using the standard sizes that are offered; format and scale are important to me. I use oil paint mixed with wax and sometimes thinned with glazes, depending on the effect I want. Using oils slows down the process as it takes longer to dry, it has far more texture than acrylic and allows me to scrape back to layers underneath more effectively to expose previous painted areas, I also like the idea that I am using the same materials as the classical and Rennaissance painters I admire, Rembrandt and Caravaggio would recognise all the materials I use.
Unifying the work over the years is a strong linear structure that reflects my interest in charcoal drawing and forms the bone-structure for the surface texture and colour. Some of the paintings take a long time to develop and are in fact a palimpsest of previous ideas that have finally reached a surface conclusion. I experiment and destroy areas during the working process in order to find an interesting way forward and produce a ‘fresh’ image. For me it is a constant battle not to fall into a formulaic way of working, or just to keep repeating what I know I can do already without much effort (as Philip Guston put it, ‘I don’t want to chew on the same bone all the time’).
My aim is to produce an antidote to the digital and CGI images that surround us on screens everywhere; I like paintings with fingerprints and brush marks that look like they have been made by a human being rather than a computer programme. I love to see a pentimento trace of charcoal peeping through in early works by Hepworth or Matisse, that’s what originally thrilled me about art and still does.