In June 2020 I lost my son, Louis. This, understandably, had a profound impact on my life and subsequently my art. As I continue to grapple with my own traumatic experience and awakening I investigate how, often in great despair we may reach out into the darkness in an attempt to seek and seize hold of the fading echoes of our losses. My grief, compounded with a lifelong struggle with bipolar, is all too familiar with periods of depression like an old steadfast friend but my new body of work emerges as an illuminant for hope. Symbols or references to transformation are like metaphysical gateways.
My work frequently eschews colour in order to focus on the complex relationships between light and darkness, both physically and symbolically, and how it can allow us to peer from our place within the everyday world to a world that might lie beyond it, beneath it, or even within it. The idea of illumination and animation through energy, set against deep black voids, crackling with life, is conjured up through stark and powerful motifs that refer to music, faith, light, and the fundamental archetypes of the soul. It’s an emotionally charged exploration into the concept of spirituality and transformation as a view to immortality, and as I dismantle the boundaries between life and death, my work resides somewhere in the space between.
Narrative has always been important to me and this continues in my later work, although perhaps with less mischievous allegory.
Statement pre 2020
My drawings have been described, appropriately, as: menacing and mischievous, serenely melancholic, sexual, dark and sinister, but playful and humorous.
The multi-layering of oil pastel and pencil creates depth and attempts to emulate the marks and surfaces achieved in materials like paint, clay or plaster. The images often take on a biomorphic quality as scratches reference marked time and inevitable scarring of the epidermal layer.
When three dimensions become two, references to scale often become ambiguous. A background might become a backdrop when objects cast vertical shadows upon it. The images, with prop-like objects, seem more like dioramas, scenes waiting for further content, or long forgotten stage sets. The narrative is, essentially, misleading.
Water, or fluid, is a recurring element in my work, appearing as puddles, ponds or streams. This ‘water’ is always depicted dark and the scratched, reflective, surfaces do not reveal the true depth or what may be lurking beneath. I like to tease, often hiding an alternative narrative in plain sight. Allegory plays an important role, as does the absurdity of our existence.
In a series of drawings, collectively titled, ’Nests’, I weave a mass network of branch or capillary-like structures often with tangled ladders. These stark, black, networks create unknown, menacing, depth. They become sinister traps as much as they represent, by title, somewhere homely and secure. A recent development of these drawings produces a more organic feel, creature-like forms emerging from the twisted mass.