Welcome

The main theme of my work is "journey" my personal interpretations and imaginings of the afterlife and those that inhabit it, inspired from religion and mythology. 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 sequence of ideas in the video  below and in the videos tab above.

Where Shall I Find You?

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 isolation and with figures trapped in a form of personal limbo or internal conflict. I often have 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.

Working Method

Process

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 (I've often been asked if I use stencils because of the effect this technique creates). 

The next stage usually involves 'blocking' around each figure with solid colour, sometimes applied with textured rollers. Then detail is carefully applied to help the characters “emerge” from the background. 

Figures

The characters in my work 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.

Sources

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

Themes

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.

In this image "Where Shall I Find You", I've returned to an older style from my degree show in 1994. The small group of characters in the background are a copy from one of my paintings in the degree exhibition (scroll up to the image before Working Method). 

I've decided to revisit this theme/style involving an array of textured surfaces within an ethnic styled appearance - once referred to as "Native Expressionism".

The difference between my style then and now is that here the figures are close up and much more detailed/realistic in appearance. I've developed a new working technique of painting collaged paper shapes and patterns (previously these would have been attached to images that inspired or interested me). 

These images usually hang on my ideas wall next to the artworks I'm currently working on.

I plan to be more experimental with my use of colour to help make the images more evocative in an attempt to convey stronger emotions within my work.

Caravaggio Paintings that Have Inspired My Paintings