Welcome

The main theme of my work is "journey" my personal interpretations or imaginings of the afterlife and those that inhabit it, inspired from religion and mythology. 

My paintings often contain an assortment of misplaced and contemplative characters who appear to inhabit an anonymous semi abstracted landscape. The figures appear frozen in the moment or lost in their thoughts. Isolated in a form of static limbo, and unable to move forward due to an emotional or sometimes physical barrier (such as being stuck in sand). As viewers, we are interrupting a specific moment of their journey.

Central to each piece is the theme of being isolated and trapped in a form of Limbo or Purgatory. I often have a river in my paintings which mostly represents the river Styx or sometimes the rivers Acheron or Cocytus located in Hades from Greek Mythology.  I include these because they form a physical barriers or boundaries within my work, and The Styx and The Acheron were believed to divide the world of the living from the world of the dead.

The idea of journey is reflected in the process of creating my artworks which consists of a series of painted layers, through which forms or figures appear and evolve. I've attempted to show this in the section "Works in Sequence".

Since travelling abroad 2006-2011, I had painted sporadically until I was inspired by Peter Doig's exhibition 'No Foreign Lands' at the Scottish National Gallery in Edinburgh.  I now have a WASPS studio in Leith and I have returned to my previous influences - artists such as Masaccio, Daumier, Goya, and more recently Caravaggio.

Working Practice​

I begin each image by building a series of painted layers of shellac knotting varnish and oil paints (usually burnt umber). Faces, figures, or forms that appear to me through this process are then outlined with turpentine. The next stage usually involves 'blocking' around each figure with solid colour, before adding detail to help the characters “emerge” (I've often been asked if I use stencils because of the effect this creates).

My characters depict my interest in history and medieval fashions, hats and costumes. I mostly aim to have figures from separate historic eras arranged within the one setting. I then dress up characters to enact roles within a "scene" to depict my own thoughts, feelings or personal memories. The final images are sometimes autobiographical in nature but mostly the culmination of fragmented images from a variety of sources, which I manipulate to tell a story.

Currently, I am using images from a variety of sources such as my own photographs (especially from my time in Cairo), the internet, characters from film and television, figures from history and my memories.

In recent works I have tried to adapt my style to make my paintings more personal in subject matter, and to create artworks which evoke a greater sense of mood. Characters are more realistic to give the world they inhabit a greater sense of authenticity. I am interested in the ambiguity this creates between the people and the background, which is often more flat and abstract in appearance.

"When Fools Crow" 2017-18

The main theme of "When Fools Crow" is opportunities lost. 

This image was an experiment with painting in a much more realistic style. The pharaoh is actually a female character inspired by Caravaggio's "Judith Beheading Holofernes". I've given her an Egyptian Headress as a reference to my time living in Cairo and my general interest in Ancient Egypt.

I've included Tyrion from Game of Thrones because I like his defiant pose and confrontational glance. I would like to make more references to my personal interests in my artwork, and this piece was an experiment in using a character from popular culture to see how this would affect or shake up the general equilibrium of the piece.

Sheila Stewart

 This image of Sheila Stewart MBE the Scottish traditional singer and storyteller, was pivotal in changing the direction of my artwork. I took it from a specific moment of the BBC 2 documentary 'Where You're Meant To Be', where she was reflecting upon her advice to Aidan Moffet from Arab Strap on how to be authentic in style when singing traditional folk ballads. 

The visual intensity of her stare and general mood of despondency caught my interest as she became increasingly critical of Moffet's approach and his interpretation of the music.

"Carry Her Gently" 2017

Inspired by Stewart's expression, I decided to transform her into one of my own characters, an Egyptian priestess to reflect her noble count​enance and life's devotion to her work. The painting is loosely based on aspects of Dante's inferno and notions of the afterlife.


Other Sources of Inspiration

My friends and memories from my time in Cairo are the main focus of more recent works. This close up of my friend Annette was inspired by the Caravaggio exhibition at the Royal Scottish Academy in 2017. For Annette's portrait I wanted to create a much more realistic finish to previous paintings by including more dramatic use of light and shadow.