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My recent paintings explore the beauty of the landscape and the sea. I’m drawn to the wonderfully organic forms and textures that nature provides, together with the juxtaposition of human intervention; tracks, fields, boundaries, paths. My work focuses on these contrasts, pushing pigments and marks to evoke a real sense of emotion and to make the subject resonate. I love the thrill of applying paint to canvas, with bold washes and thick textured brush marks evoking a real sense of immediacy and excitement, seeking to capture that first glimpse of a stunning view and to impart that feeling of awe to the viewer. I like to think my paintings are fearless. I take huge risks with them at all stages of their development, in order to seek that balance between complete freedom and control. I use a lot of water and am endlessly experimenting with different media and ideas. The alchemic magic of watercolour I find absolutely intoxicating and I love the grand gesture of a large canvas.
1985 – Foundation Course at Wimbledon School of Art
Here I was given excellent experience in many forms of art from sculpture to printmaking, graphic design and theatre design as well as painting, textiles and photography. I decided to specialise in painting and also spent hours in the wonderful darkroom there. At the end of the year I was also awarded the prize for drawing.
1986-1989 – BA Hons Fine Art at North East London Polytechnic, now the University of East London
Here I continued to develop my painting, working mainly in oils and on large canvases, averaging at about 10 x 8 feet which although is a very liberating scale to paint on, though it’s not so great transporting it on top of a mini clubman! I was located in Plaistow and then Stratford in the East End of London with some great friends and inspiration around me. They were very happy days. Much of my subject matter explored the alchemic transformation of the surrounding industrial landscape and in particular how nature was reclaiming vast areas of disused sites. The hidden beauty of the old docklands and factories. I was particularly struck by their brutal, dynamic structures and rusty textures and colours. The area of course has had a rebirth in the last few decades and is now almost unrecognisable. Little did I know too that I’d be married to one of my oldest friends who I met on the course thirty years later and my life too would be transformed.
Colour, of course has always been central to my work and is what really moves me in life. Whether it be the fantastic array of hues in rust, a thunderous prussian blue sky or the sumptuous crimson of an amaryllis. I particularly remember the magnificence of an acid plant at West Ham, London when I was an art student. It’s sizable construction was clearly visable from the tube train and had to be viewed at night, when the entire factory would be illuminated with the most amazing neon blue. It was truly spectacular; skeletal and fragile somehow. As Henri Matisse noted ‘A certain blue enters your soul.’ and yes, even in an old acid plant in the East End of London I found awe and wonder next to a train track. My final thesis, I researched the symbolic and cathartic connotations of the colour red, focusing particularly on the life and works of Mark Rothko and Edvard Munch.