For me painting is the strong need to respond to the feelings evoked by direct experience of place and landscape. In most of my work there is very little conscious intellectual analysis of direction, style or technique, other than to recapture the memory and presence of the initial experience. I have to admit that I just paint and that is how it turns out.
This is of course a huge simplification of what I have experienced in the last sixty years. From Art School days through a lifetime of teaching the influences have built up. I see myself firmly in the British Neo Romantic tradition of 1920’s to 1950’s with the major figures of Stanley Spencer, Paul Nash, Ben Nicholson, John Piper and Graham Sutherland as the main influences. Wyeth, Hopper and O’Keefe represent the American connections.
The only time I consciously set out to produce work of a particular kind is when I feel the need to move towards a more abstract approach. Here I find Victor Pasmore and Ivon Hitchens a help in painting, but I am trying to move more towards a fusion of construction and painting where image is combined with relief or full three dimensions. I love the work of the Minimalists, Constructivists and the Russian Suprematists although you will have to look hard to see their influence in my work.
I get a great thrill from the conventional magic of creating the illusion of three dimensions on a flat surface but at times this is not enough and I long to actually manipulate the space physically by bringing at least some real three dimension to support the painted surfaces, even if this is only in low relief. This is the challenge at the moment and I am still discovering how far I can take the amount of construction relative to the painted surface and what I can eliminate in terms of conventional realistic painterly effect.
Using fibreboard, hardboard and card I am building a three dimensional base on which to paint. There is some necessary element of abstraction and simplification but essentially I am still looking for a pictorial rather than a sculptural result.
SUBJECTS AND THEMES
Although my work may seem varied in subject it is in fact virtually all connected by the same theme. My painting is entirely a response to the real experience of a particular place or landscape and the places are all of a kind. The intention is to explore the effects of man and nature through time. Weathering, decay and abandonment, growth and renewal influence and shape the content.
Old quarries, prehistoric sites, empty houses, abandoned and derelict buildings, weather-blasted trees and bushes and the temporary nature of coastal landscape all have a powerful attraction for me and I try to evoke that same resonance in the paintings.
It is about the passage of time. Time moves forward but these places seem to stand aside from the flow, moving towards a destination of their own. Changing, maybe dying, often only present in part, but still with a powerful message of their origins. They wait for their future, possibly a new growth or beginning, possibly a conclusion.
I have found new inspiration in a focus on the patterns and forms found in vegetation, both the natural tangle of wild growth and the more structured appearance of gardens. Subjects showing the effect of man on nature through cutting, shaping and controlling link closely to my other work.