I am a Visual Artist based in the beautiful Douglas Valley in the North West of England. I embarked on an MA in Contemporary Art after completing a BA Hons Fine Art at the University of Salford 2017 – 2020, in which I graduated with First-Class Honours. I won the Howarth Life Drawing Prize in 2018 and travelled to Berlin with the bursary award. My current practice focuses predominantly on painting. I explore the local landscape and react to my environs; researching through photography, video, satellite maps, note taking, poetry, sense connections to my surroundings, and psychological aspects such as dreams. I then translate this information to produce various degrees of abstracted interpretations of the landscape.
I produce lyrical abstract paintings, carefully balancing calligraphic marks within the pictorial space of a non-traditional landscape format/ space. I carefully trace and track the performativity of the gesture and produce fluid abstractions that intuitively refer to experienced and semi-imagined landscape formed from thoughts that have been locked away through trauma and envisioned through the creative and therapeutic play of painting.
The protection of our environment is paramount in this age of climate change, species extinction, and plastic pollution. I have experienced my local landscape much more during Lockdown: rolling hills, valley floors, ancient woodlands, the tide and flow of waterways. These vistas invigorate and inspire me. However, I am also scared, and ill-at-ease with the impact humans have on the planet and what lies before us in this near future.
Line, colour, tone, gestural brushstrokes are my weapons to mobilise my message. Large brushes produce sweeping brush marks, the trajectory of which move across, support, and echo my traverse through topographical terrains, a symbiotic connection to the earth and soil. Harmony is balanced through a lyrical, poetic, and abstract language of semiotics. Signs and signifiers juxtapose on a flat/ two-dimensional surface.
Variety in scale is important. Painting on a large support enthuses me, as it frees up gesture and can be more playful. Experimentation and play are vital. I build up layers from an initial wash (thinned down acrylic) to create a background for painting into. A variety of sizes of brushes helps me create gestural marks and compositional frameworks. Working in acrylic has become my main medium. Experimenting with the viscosity of the paint, layering colours, playing with the opacity and translucency of the paint, and choosing the colours, and tonal values is a natural form of expression and my primary visual language.
My research practice begins by the simple act of walking. I stake out my territory. I am a lyrical loiterer. My inspiration springs from the absorption of the landscape through my senses – touch, seeing, hearing, and feeling, in a spiritual sense: for our connection to the land is deeper than purely physical, the memories we gather vibrate and reverberate within our hearts and minds. I will often record my walks through photography, video, and note-taking. Writing poetical prose, retrospectively, from studying the resource material, then translating this message into paintings is my task.
The power of abstraction is my tool in configuring my message. I am interested in psychogeography. The world around me is interpreted through thought, philosophy, and as an idea. Paradoxically, the world appears in a concrete existence; however, I don’t attempt to represent external reality but seek to portray the world through shapes, colours, and tonal values. Rural/ suburban/urban districts, the edgelands, where the city meets the countryside, are my subjects. My work is historically inspired by artists including Victor Pasmore, Ivon Hitchen, Albert Irvin, Peter Lanyon, and Adrian Berg. As well as being inspired by contemporary artists such as Shara Hughes’ forms and colour layers and Julie Mehretu’s mark making, layering, and political and social influences in her work. By studying these artists techniques and manner of observing and painting the landscape, I contextualise my work through the observations of their compositions, use of colour, and brushmarks. The post-impressionists and Vincent Van Gogh have always been one of my founding inspirations, as has the colourist-inspired Yorkshire landscapes of David Hockney.
In common with Hockney and Van Gogh in their stays in Normandy and Arles respectively, during Lockdown, I have walked and explored my local vicinity, like they before me, and have been inspired by what is on my doorstep. Wandering alone, and taking in what I see before me helps me connect with nature. This then brings me to Aboriginal Art which also inspires me, not just the visual impact but also the spiritual connection of the people to the land and aspects of their culture such as the ‘walkabout’ and ‘Dreamtime.’ I have found that spending so much time in nature has been a rite of passage, like the young Aboriginals sent out into the outback and left to survive, like them I have harmonised with nature, and the spirits of the trees, plants, and animals have entered my own dream world and in turn have cleansed my own psyche and spirit.
In the past, I have referenced cartographic influences from paper maps to GPS. Using maps as a resource material enables me to create a framework for a composition. I use places where I have recently walked or visited in which my memories and experiences are fresh. I will often revisit these sites repeatedly. I paint out the structure of the composition and then work into it over several sessions. Depending on the size of the surface the paintings can be rendered relatively quickly or take many hours or days to reach completion.