|I DO WHAT I AM.
Born in 1948 I spent all of my childhood in and around Gt. Yarmouth. My childhood, which I could say a lot about, left me struggling with the realisation that the world was not “black and white”: which I believe is why I use those two tones in some of my work. Also I have a tension in me between the desire to please/conform and rebel. As a consequence much of my work is informed by the idea of chaos (rebellion/non-conformity) and control (pleasing/doing what is expected) and a kind of general duality – of which I will say more later.
I was “good” at art at school and passed my O level. Before going to college I experimented with “drip painting” on wet paper – none of these survive. At college I changed my subsidiary subject from drama to art and so emerged after three years as a history and art teacher. I taught in high schools for 33 years but only taught art for the first two.
I dabbled in the visual arts for years. Work on assemblages and photography were my main vehicles and eventually I turned to writing, but this was not immediate enough. I began to think I would probably paint when I retired. Each long summer holiday would leave me refreshed and bursting with ideas – but within 2-3 weeks of returning to the classroom nearly all creativity had ebbed. Just before the turn of the millennium my wife argued that I should just get on with it and not wait for retirement. Her support and encouragement have been invaluable.
My first exhibition was an eclectic mix of work which my son said looked like the work of several different painters. At my second, self organised solo exhibition in early 2001 I sold my first piece. Other exhibitions and sales followed. The Inland Revenue were interested in my earnings and propelled me to the “status” of self employed artist. That is what I am and do full time now that I have taken premature retirement.
The issue of a style has always been a problem. I worked for a while with a mainly red and blue palette. One French gallery eventually rejected my work because it was too red and blue! Looking for a style or palette has been about a desire to conform (at one level) and gain “acceptance”. I try, rebelliously, to push boundaries in my work whilst wanting acceptance.
I see the use of canvas and MDF board (the modern wood panel) as conservative and rooted in an art historical perspective. The emphasis on non-subjective work I see as rebellious – not in the context of art history but in the context of popular aesthetics which are rooted in a Renaissance reality concept.
During Christmas 2004 I wrote a sort of manifesto for myself; the main points being:
• the intention to continue to investigate and develop the application of paint including household gloss paint
• in some senses to seek to liberate the paint
• to embrace the duality referred to earlier by producing both “complex” and “minimal” work
• to use as broad or limited a palette of colours as I wish
• to continue to be influenced by the ideas of chaos and control – the use of a painting surface, choice of palette, amount of paint used and decisions on how to apply the paint are elements of control – freeing the paint to randomness and, at times, gravity are elements of chaos – the decision to stop the process is the imposition of control
• to continue to experiment – to know that I am trying hard because I fail at times. I may choose to exhibit the “failures”
• to not be constrained by the surfaces I paint on
• to include words in my work if I wish – I do have a writing background
I am my own style. All my art, in whatever form, colours, textures, media and styles reflects ABSOLUTELY who I am. I do what I am.