Most of these paintings are recent , there are examples of others from the last 30 years.They are modernist, expressionistic oil paintings, about colour, pattern,form, movement, texture,and all that jazz , all tangled up with memory and imagination.Like Hans Hoffman and many modern artists, I work towards poetic expression. I try to catch the fleeting changes in light and mood, which are dramatic and make it somehow concrete.
Cornwall encourages reflection, water all around – an icon for the subconscious. People here are trying to understand and seeking time and space amongst the Cornish. Life is dominated by the mighty sea whose tides shift ceaselessly forwards,governed by the moon, marking the seasons.One is aware of the stars, clear and bright in the black skies, the planets clearly visible trajectories.
Cornwall is a bewitchingly beautiful place where artists have found inspiration. St.Ives is a small community of seagoing tradition, harbour and town, school and churches, artists and beach life. A lot of building ,craft and arts professionals, hotels and history. Artists are fellow workers. fishing boats and fishermen, the harbourwall and the beautiful hillsides surrounding St.Ives Bay, Godrevy lighthouse, the Steeple, Rosewall and Constabba Hill,Horses at Halsetown .
Relationship with place is in it’s sight, sound,smell, texture and taste , these senses anchor it in the body- a zip file of a lifetime can be invoked by the call of a gull or the smell of seaweed.
The images and colours in the paintings are about constant change and movements,springtime ,sunsets and winter transformations observed in fleeting time. They are from life and this is why they are sometimes called ‘naeive’ , a rush to capture the moving changes, I am like a fisherman in this, to race the tide, to catch the boats before they leave,the sun before it sinks beyond Carnstabba hill and the fishermen go out or come in. Mostly a la prima, impasto, layered and tonal colours.I love the oil paint and the improbability of the images caught up in wheals of paint.They are alive forever in the paint and continue to live and change with the changing perception of the viewer.
The older work is Studio based from Manchester ,Lincolnshire and Cornwall. The imagery of Music and literature play a big part in the iconography of my work. Landscape allusions in the work of Joni Mitchell,Bob Dylan, Van Morrison, Alan Ginsberg Walt Whitman and Dylan Thomas, Leonard Cohen and Alan Watts.Painting is ‘the creation of the self and the self creating’ I assemble hope and possibility, newness out of vivid everyday life.
In painting as in dreams we are like film directors, orchestrating subconsciously. A good painting will always change with the viewer It is rich enough to sustain imagination.It always presents something new.
Painting is the work of our enduring, often ignored inner child. It is a language which can express much on many levels. For me nature,art and education are the trinity. My paintings are witness to the transfixing beauty which flows in and out of life. We belong to the earth, not the other way around. ‘A terrible beauty’, I hope we don’t blow it.
The continuing statement is long and as yet to be edited. It is about how I think the paintings got to be the way they are and what is important in their development.
W. B. Yeats in his poem ‘Easter 1916′ used the phrase:’a terrible beauty is born’. We live within a protective carapace of dreams but need to contact reality regularly or starve. When painting signals new directions , it ‘puts something back into the world’- Mick Robinson, painter. This ‘terrible beauty’ is the awareness of our true role in the world, Adam and Eve ran and hid themselves.
Currently I get inspiration from L.S.Lowry, the way his forms are held and energised within a ground of flake white. Howard Hodgkin at the Tate 2006, honest about the making and meaning of his work and his unequalled language of colour. Ben Nicholson’s wonderful drawing and rebellion, joy and creativity.Ivon Hitchen from the book by Peter Khoroche and the vivid and honest(although not always right) writing of the Art Critic Peter Davies, author of ‘A Northern School’,’St.Ives revisited’ and ‘After Trewyn’ and his in depth knowledge of contemporary Cornish and post war art. Also from The Tate St.Ives and post war and contemporary art around St.Ives.
My home is my culture because organisation makes things possible.I work from the immediate and never use photographs or sketches.This way I keep myself in the work,at the centre of celebration. Not like a clerk mechanically recording things.It is possible to work from photographs because Degas did, but you have to have a lot to say to overwhelm the photographic content.
I am spellbound by Cornwall and St.Ives . I feel the same for all the places I have affinity,have lived and studied.
In Manchester it was the Venetian City of sunsets and Sundays, the Penines peeping up on the horizon, anti-commuting, going when it is quiet and abandoned;coming home everyone else has left. In Nottingham the positive working of democracy and The beautiful University Park.I owe much to ‘the Centre for The Study of Human Relations’ in the Education Faculty of the University , without which I may not have got this far and might not have wanted to. I owe much to books and authors and libraries and broadcasts.
In Lincolnshire it was the sense of a land that time forgot. The medieval still tangible, castles and cathedrals along with 40’s petrol pumps and tin plate shop adverts for zebra polish and oxo. Haunted and beautiful ,retaining its spacious beauty and varied terrain, an island in time. Crossing Newark into Lincolnshire was ‘escape’ to the deep English interior. My garden was an acre of ‘bee loud’ orchards and mature trees, rooms with hawthorne hedge walls, the 700 year old St.Andrews Church,Helpringham at the bottom of the garden, in a sea of heaving black poplars and elegant wallnut trees which sometimes carried as many starlings as leaves.Mediaeval villages, huge skys and sparsely populated massive tracts of unspoilt fields and hillsides edging into the North Sea and eastcoast sunrises.Blackfriars arts centre .
I am inspired by the artists with whom I helped to found the Manchester Artists Studio Association in 1982 and years of working in a creative artists studio , by the artists and students who came in to paint and draw and the fine artists who had studios and worked there. Artists are unconventional and generous teachers. A huge achievement so much was created by people working together with a dream many of whom had phenomenal skills.
The children I’ve known, my own and those of Skegness Earl of Scarborough School , Wisbech Queens County High school, Fred Gough, Bottesford High, Scunthorpe and others in Peterborough,Grimsby and Cornwall. As a supply art specialist and under enormous pressure, in three hectic years I learned what I should have known already about the fun, intelligence, brotherhood and huge potential of being part of a community of creative minds.They also taught me humility in their tremedous trust, respect for and hope of art and the future.
As a child in inner city Manchester the flora were docks, daisies and dandelions on the local wilderness we called the ‘condemn’ and on ‘crofts’ on every street , our wildlife.They were bombsites, nature had reclaimed. We made play houses with broken bricks and slates. Free materials and common land. It was post war Manchester,optimistic; a heavily bombed area of Hulme in Lowreyesque terraced streets, Manchester near the Gasworks and Deansgate station.
Our parents were young and our Anglo/Irish working class culture in Post war Manchester was rich. My father had been a sailor out of Plymouth in the war. A large extended family, devoted schoolteachers, Victorian Parks and Museums, Libraries and Art Galleries.The Universities, Cathedrals and magestic railway stations,steam trains and Manchester’s Venetian City centre. I identified strongly with the city.
We also had the glamour of technicolour at the cinema and the poetry of popular music Frank Sinatra and Ella Fitzgerald, Doris Day and Paul Robeson.
We had the Pre-Raphaelites, Modern art at the Whitworth Art Gallery, Grand City Statuary and Architecture. the wonderful Central Library, with theatre and gallery .
My young mother worked part time as a cleaner in a car showroom in Deansgate .
Sometimes we would go with her in the evening and she would sit us in the back of some wondrous new shiny black Limousine while she worked .The darkened showroom with the neon lights and headlights of the city flashing outside.
The everyday ecstacy of the hushed nightime interior, dramatic lights and sounds of the city is the kind of primary imprint I re-experience when I make the paintings of Cornwall. A kind of magic time , conjured up in painting.