Inside the Studio
What are the major themes you pursue in your work?
My art practice has been strongly driven by the need to express emotion in a society fed by media, and selling a “sunny” world view, devoid of anxiety and pain. I am fascinated by how western society represents itself outwardly through photographic saturation. By examining similarities between social media and other historical and glossy representations of western culture, and aspiring celebrity, I aim to challenge the viewer to consider how this affects society’s view of itself, especially the negative impact on the human condition. My inspiration is most often drawn from found photographic images, of which I am an avid collector. They evoke a strength of emotion in me that is very important, as it is this emotional response that drives my subconscious and energises me. It is only then through the action of painting that a new and exciting form is revealed.
The painting process is often an indirect and fluid “journey”. I rely on instinct and spontaneity more than conscious decision-making, and this often results in a more honest and sometimes visceral form of painting. It is with this almost primitive urge to visually explore that I aim to develop a raw, painterly “landscape” of layered paint, which is equal in significance to the characters inhabiting that space. There are never conclusions drawn but more importantly new questions unearthed.
What was the best advice given to you as an artist?
Follow your heart, which I learned later in life. There is no point in wasting energy trying to keep everybody else happy at the expense of your own personal development. You just have to keep going!
Prefer to work with music or in silence?
I can only truly lose myself in my work if I am listening to loud music in my headphones, I typically listen to energising alternative rock music for an intense, fast paced and spontaneous painting, or occasionally jazz or reggae if I need to slow down my pace for a more contemplative piece. I have no doubts about how influential my musical taste has been on my work.
If you could only have one piece of art in your life, what would it be?
My favourite piece of art of all time is the painted representation of a soft toy zebra by my daughter Isabelle at the age of six. It has a flat orange background and black and white stripes which zing out, and it just works for me at every level! Failing that, Canyon by Rauschenberg, or most anything by Francis Bacon or Edvard Munch.
Who are your favorite writers?
Being dyslexic I rarely read fiction these days but have really enjoyed Iain Banks, Irvine Welsh, and Lorenzo Carcaterra. I do though always have two or three art, history and more recently African tribal culture reference books on the go.