This body of work continues my exploration of time, place and memory, the paintings are sited in the ‘designed’ landscape of the garden and visually reference abandoned buildings, overgrown glasshouses, follies, grottos and shell houses. These are dreamy places, places of escape connecting us backwards in time and inward to the self, they exist as manifestations of our relationship with the natural world and as monuments to human aspiration, memory and ultimately mortality.
Influenced in part by Wabi Sabi philosophy of ‘beauty in imperfection’ the paintings incorporate loose depictions of natural and manmade elements in asymmetrical and incomplete forms. The process relies on layering and erasure, juxtaposition of the detailed and the obscure and a combination of painterly control and accident.
The imagery in these paintings acts as a compositional device and foil to painterly concerns, balancing the image with the abstract and material possibilities of a painted surface. The motifs and structures used suggest things that have a ‘presence’ if no particular function, their purpose seemingly less important than their striking form and placement in the landscape.
Visits to gardens such as Villa Cimbrone on the Amalfi coast, La Mortella in Ischia and the Ninfa Gardens south of Rome provided a stimulus for this body of work. The Ninfa Gardens in particular, created by Gelasio Caetani in the 1920’s encapsulates many of the elements that interest me - sited amid the long-abandoned ruins of a medieval town, this is a place where reality seem to soften at the edges, the combination of location, history, colour, texture and scent combine to provide an experience that is simultaneously emotive, evocative and sensual. Described as a place “where time seems to stand still,” I found them magical from the outset; possessing a sensibility that combined joyful celebration and intense pathos; it is this sensibility that I explore in my paintings.
365 Days - Statement:
In my work, inadequacy and perfection, beauty and turmoil all seem to fuse, while there isn’t any explicit subject matter much of my inspiration comes from the disparate worlds of religious iconography, architecture and fashion. While different aspects of these references can entice and alienate the link for me lies in sumptuous visual display and experience of pleasure. I like the work to speak of a state that is in constant flux providing an experience that can enrich the mundane.
While I don’t plan a painting I am constantly on the lookout for sources and flashes of inspiration. Like a magpie I pick things up if I feel they are interesting; letting objects materials and images sit around the studio for a while has a great appeal for me. Ideas, images and objects get filtered, deconstructed and transformed and find their own way to settle into the process which is defined by its own aesthetic.
Colour is an important element, applied in layers on gesso grounds incorporating various techniques from encaustic to transparent glazing it references the exotic, fashion, folk-art and the sacred; it is seductive, emotive, sometime kitsch but always celebratory.
I have a preoccupation with ordered geometry with an emphasis on repetition and the seductive beauty of the surface. I am especially interested in the tension between form and surface and enjoy the harmony and discord that can exist between simple, bold forms and intricate design. This investigation of the beauty and simplicity of intricate patterns and their relationship to forms that sometimes blur the edges between surface and structure, materiality and immateriality is an ongoing concern.
By exploring the interplay between chance and control – the visual components of pattern, repetition, order and structure interact with the materials and process of making establishing a dialogue situated somewhere between the expected and unexpected, reason and opportunity.
The forms I reference tend to remain ambiguous but appear familiar and hover somewhere between reality and fiction. The use of decorative elements and intricate patterns simultaneously references an awareness of the self and of our surroundings and evokes the keepsake that is imbued with domesticity and the intimate.