Painting for me is a vehicle for discovery. Ever since childhood I’ve had an interest in the way things work, the way things grow. I had the sense that there were natural laws governing all things. Finding a way to express this underlying structure has always been the most important factor in my work.
When I was seventeen I wanted to find a new way of painting that would allow me to express this. When I went to Chelsea School of Art at age nineteen there was hope of discovering it there. After four years I went to the Royal College of Art, thinking I would find it there. It was a particularly lively time to be there. Lots of energy, and the chance to work with film and theatre .
For some time after leaving college my work was non-figurative. Aiming to express ideas about philosophy and natural law using geometry and colour. Paul Klee and Kandinsky were great influences. I read Kandinsky’s ‘Concerning the Spiritual in Art’, which led me to an interest in the philosophy of Ouspensky and Advaita Vedanta . The regular practice of Meditation is a most important factor of my daily routine.
Around the age of thirty-five I stopped painting non figuratively because I felt I didn’t have anything to measure the results against. I couldn’t find a yardstick. For the first time in my life I began to paint landscapes, and it was as like starting from scratch, learning how to paint from observation . It took quite a long time to get things working. But after a while it became clear that what was being looked for was the same thing in landscape as had been aimed at in non-figurative work, which was something beyond the physical representation of things. I found that if you’re sitting in front of a landscape, painting it day after day (I used to paint at the same time every day over a couple of weeks) then you begin to transcend the physical. Somehow, you can get in touch with that which doesn’t change, on which the physical changing aspect is grounded. This is very exciting. It provides the energy to work.
I became interested in the qualities of stillness in landscape – water, skies, light, space – but particularly water, and reflections; painting on the Thames, and the Loire in France. Looking at the way things arrive in space, in the same way that in music, the space between the notes is as important as the notes itself. What’s important is the bit you can’t explain. The magic.
Around six years ago there was a moment when it felt that it was time to express this more subtle world I was experiencing, to began looking at ideas of how creation came about: what is this creation? And who am I? Is it possible to express this relationship? To actually sit down and paint the result of these explorations feels like a leap in the dark. I’m interested in looking at the movement in creation from simplicity to complexity. How from a very simple beginning the creation moves towards ever more complexity, accompanied always by the ever present unity.
Figurative work continues alongside the work on concepts
The exploration into the nature of things continues…