Most of my current work is created on various types and gauges of paper, often using a ‘resist’ of some sort in the form of wax, oil and occasionally varnish or starch in combination with different water-based pigments. This tends to make the paper translucent and allows my colours to change subtly over time. I use the resulting relationship, in which these materials repel or embrace one another, as a basic metaphor for all human interaction. Life drawing and the human form underpins all of my art, even in those works which appear close to abstraction
I am fascinated by the relationship between oil and water, resisting and repelling one another, yet at the same time occasionally creating a union which can be extraordinarily beautiful. In the natural world they are normally kept apart, one buried deep beneath the other, but when humankind has intervened the two have sometimes been introduced to one another with disastrous consequences. As a boy I remember watching fascinated through binoculars as the oil released from the wrecked tanker Torrey Canyon was relentlessly bombed by RAF planes in an attempt to stop it spreading to the Cornish coast. It reminded me of one of those low budget horror movies in which the military is called in to attack some monster which has emerged by human agency from a lost world or from the depths of the ocean.
As an artist I try to use this interaction as a metaphor for human relationships by introducing a third element into the equation, paper, and by extending the literal meanings of ‘oil’ and ‘water’. A simple conjuring trick, shown to pupils at art classes around the world, is to draw on a blank sheet of paper with a white household candle, then introduce a wash of watercolour so that the original drawing magically appears. Hold it up to the light and you see that the structure of the paper has been transformed, making it translucent. These basic acts underpin almost all of my current work, though over the years I have refined and experimented with the three elements involved.
I often draw using a liquid element of crushed compressed charcoal dissolved in oil into which I dip a solid element – the compressed charcoal itself. In a recent series of works (Hispano-Mauresque) inspired by a residency in Morocco I have combined this technique with a coloured element derived from mixing Moroccan earth pigments with oil, into which I have made my own calligraphic marks, each back-lit by an LED screen. In so doing I have tried to explore a particular period of North African/southern European history in relation to current events on the global stage.
I use my images as a means of visiting the past and the future in search of human experiences which are both widely shared and highly personal. On a certain level the people who appear in my work may be models in the studio or members of my own friends and family. On another they are part of a human family, past, present and future, participating in a process whereby their thoughts, emotions, actions and experiences – both good and evil – are laid down, one upon the other, layer upon layer, so that they may be mined as a source of spiritual heat and light - or of discord and destruction.
Selected Group Shows
1982 Jubilee. Hamilton’s Gallery London
1996 Figureworks. The Small Mansion Arts Centre, London
1997 Checkout. Waterman’s Arts Centre, London
1998 Well Hung. The Small Mansion Arts Centre, London
2000 Family. Karen Taylor Contemporary Art, London
2001 Beyond the Boundaries. Artmonsky Arts
2002 Summer Exhibition, Diesel House, London
2002 Interiors. Karen Taylor Contemporary, London
2003 Small Mansion Artists, London
2008 Inspired!: The British Museum, London
2014 2nd International Biennale of Contemporary Art, Casablanca, Morocco
One Person Exhibitions
1987 Drawings and Dreams. Theatre Royal, Winchester
1989 Drawings and Dreams II. Athawes Art Gallery, London
1998 Down the Garden Path. Small Mansion Arts Centre, London
1999 Innocence and Experience. Studio Gallery, London
2001 Green and Dying. Jersey Galleries, London
2004 Lifelines. Kufa Gallery, London
2005-13 Association for Cultural Advancement through the Visual Arts
2015-16 West London Art Factory