There are two distinct locations in Dorset that have been the focus of my work in recent years, namely Briantspuddle Heath and Ball Hill near Plush. These places are like “open air studios” for me, places that I go back to over and over again and where I am able to work relatively undisturbed. I feel a bit like an agricultural worker from a bygone era working the land: I have spent so much time there that I feel as though I have been woven into the very fabric of the place. My preference is to work outside, directly from the subject and without preparatory sketches - what you see, hear, smell and the unexpected things that nature has to offer all go into the melting pot. Very often organic matter, insects and detritus become embedded in the paint, so that elements of the actual landscape become part of the painting. In fact, over the last few years, the paintings have developed a pronounced tendency to “grow” beyond the traditional rectilinear square stretcher and occupy an area embracing characteristics of both sculpture and painting.
The paintings are as much about the development of a personal language as they are about landscape. My attitude towards painting is that anything goes – scratching the paint with a stick, scraping the paint off and throwing it back on to the canvas, whilst also embracing the serendipity of what happens on the palette. If the day’s work has not gone well I will scrape back and then return again and again to the same spot, recording the time and the date of each session until I am happy with the result. Consequently the ghosts of earlier visits, in the form of gradually congealing paint, play their part in the finished work, and the location, time and date of the final session becomes the title of the work. Such paintings have an “excavated” quality, and water-filled holes, the result of repeated visits to the same spots, add credence to this.
The titles of the paintings, consisting of the specific location, the date, and the time of starting and finishing, reflect the fact that these paintings are not endeavouring to capture a frozen moment but are very much about expressing what it is like to occupy a particular space over a defined period of time, embracing often quite considerable changes in the weather yet producing therefrom a harmonious whole.
5th October 2017