I THINK THAT...
Art is the highest level to which the human spirit aspires. It reflects all mysteries of life
and their explanations. It is our purpose and joy to explore them and understand them.
Therefore my paintings become a quest for synergy in a visual response to Nature, and
Art (Subjectivity) and Science (Objectivity)... The eternal triangle of Man, Woman and Nature...
Landscape and Figure...
'Visual Poetry' perhaps sums up best what I feel painting should be about.
I was born in Exeter, Devonshire, and until recently was living in artistic isolation in North
Cornwall, surrounded by polite watercolours and regurgitated tourist impressionism. My
paintings are conceived in the natural world - amongst landscape, plant, animal and
human. They grow in the margins where civilisation meets nature... where Nature meets Man,
and where Man meets Woman.
They are about universalities.
Even as a child I think I knew that man corrupted Nature - wresting her to his own ends -
agriculture, garden, hedge, dog, horse. Later I realised he does this to the human body too,
imposing his will on everything: moulding, adpating, bludgeoning. So, as a lonely child and
later as an intellectually lonely adult, Nature was always intuitively understood; the
countryside was, and still is, a safe retreat.
Fine art and wild nature have always been conflicting passions. 'Conflicting' because it is
to do with survival of the natural world (the planet - a depressing business), but also with
the survival of one's own personal integrity/sanity - frequently endangered by the former. I
worked for a newspaper and, from 19, with wildlife, writing and illustrating 12 books and over
100 articles. I gained a doctorate at Glasgow University but became disillusioned with
science, although I still continue my work towards re-introducing the Chough back to Cornwall
(the Chough is Cornwall’s extinct National Bird). I felt that only through ‘Natural
Philosophy’ could the planet be saved, so I qualified as a teacher, but became increasingly
frustrated at the lack of independence, and finally gave up to concentrate on the most
fundamental form of communication available to humans... the Visual.
As visual considerations merge with ideas, a dialogue emerges between Object and Subject until
an image emerges that speaks it. Painting responds to the duality of knowledge and
communication. It is a consuming passion. The margins between art and science are
increasingly blurred. Both are vital in understanding Nature, but Painting is as old as
civilisation itself. It transmogrifies (=grotesque connection) the natural and visual worlds,
translating them into a language accessible to others. In short, it visualises ideas.
SHAPING FIGURE AND LANDSCAPE
Since first exhibiting over 15 years ago, I'm still besotted by the natural world and the
way which we humans fit into it. I'm interested in human impact. My 'landscapes' are honest
responses, never forgetting, as Jackson Pollock said, that one is landscape.
I view the human figure as landscape: in terms of contrasts, tensions, boundaries, patterns,
colours, balances and harmonies. My response translates it into a Painting. As a male
painter, I must concentrate on the female ‘figure’ and on Her metaphysical position astride
the world. Pictorial considerations strive for a union working on infinite levels. ‘Infinite’
because each viewer arrives with their own unique baggage. This calls for a psychological
and visual response. Artists take the world and reconstruct it to a different shape.
Current work may treat the human figure as landscape. 'Landscape' can be natural or a
construct of the mind - 'Landscapes of Nowhere' perhaps. I think of these works as
'Figurescape' or 'Mythical Modern Figures'', and see my job, intellectually, to challenge,
upset and question. Emotionally, it is to inspire, engage and ultimately, uplift. Whatever
ambition or arrogance drives us, humans are as much a natural creation as anything else. To
our discredit and ultimately our own destruction, we pretend to be something separate. The
world is now shaped by man in one way or another; we also shape ourselves, and allow ourselves
to be shaped. I look at the visual phenomenon of a human being just as though it were a tree
or rock, but I’m also intrigued by the way we alter the natural phenomenon.
But the human body is seldom nude. It is usually constrained by layers of clothing, it is
pinned, underpinned, modified and enhanced. A sea of hypocrisy surrounds the ‘Classic Nude’
- which was often a response to male desire or veiled pornography. I try to confront this
head-on. Just like landscapes and gardens, we find some more interesting and attractive than
NOTE ON THE PICTURES
As a 'handler of paint', communicating through such a language via the medium of a computer
screen threatens 'gesture’. The surface qualities and texture of paintings are very
important, and no quality of digital reproduction can compensate, so please remember that
those shown here are merely introductions. Successful paintings are stepping stones towards
understanding (unsuccessful ones are strangled at birth or die of neglect). Fine Art breathes
or dies. Like music, it does not rely on vicarious similarity to something else and is better
understood intuitively - by emotion over machine. Whether the pictures speak to you, even as
digitized reproductions, I cannot yet say, but hope you feel they warrant some contemplation.
Given my isolation, I'd like your thoughts on the above - most of all, on the pictures
themselves. Thanks for coming this far.