9 June - 15 July, 2017
When I was a student, a lecturer once said ‘Matisse believed that if you do not draw every day you are not a proper artist’. This came as a something of a preachment that planted seeds of doubt regarding my sincerity as an art student, which, during fallow periods of inspiration niggled. Perhaps naively I told myself that Matisse was in a privileged position to say such a thing, and what constituted ‘proper’ and ‘artist’ anyway?
Still, without drawing every day, I realize that I have at least thought about creating work every day, with the need to scratch that itch that I assume all ‘proper’ artists have.
I have been trying to find common themes between this current body of work and those I exhibited at the Globe Gallery 15 years ago.
Back then, all the paintings explored methods of abstraction, incorporating overlaying oil paint and wax. I had a series of studios which allowed me to create and wallow in mess, experimenting with alchemic methods and techniques that were not found in instruction books but offered tremendous possibilities. Ultimately the heady fug and fumes over time began to impair my health and together with new interests and lines of enquiry, I realized that I could adapt my working methods to suit my new, smaller surroundings, having given up my studio for a large metal workbench which now doubles as a kitchen table. Adapting to this new space required a way of working which would allow me scope yet keep the living space clean and manageable. After many false starts, collage became the answer.
These new works can be construed as almost polar opposite to my thought processes and working methods in 2002. However, then as now I use layering and incision to inform the imagery. Also, what I produced previously wasn’t ‘conventional’ painting, and what I do now isn’t ‘conventional’ collage; parts of some of the works being more akin to marquetry.
Collectively, the subject matter is clearly eclectic, without unifying themes. The diversity of the subject matter comes through probing possibilities of long held memories as well as affinities and appreciation of the works of others.
All of the pieces start from working drawings, most are observed from setups, the final drawing acting as a template for the construction of each piece.
The process is methodical, with the need to plan ahead, yet it offers the chance to adapt quickly (the change of a background colour for instance). It also brings the challenges of procedure and precision through the cutting process. The clinical hardness of the cut edge has opened new ways of working which have redirected my development.
Given the chance to reply to my lecturers comment, I would now be tempted to quote that thwarted romantic dreamer, Harold Steptoe, with ‘What a bloody, silly, stupid thing to say!’.