Friday, 10 September 2010

Exhibition at the Art Market, Leeds

Pictures from the opening night are up at on flickr. Many many thanks to Jay and Zoe at the Art Market for putting on the show and for all their help and hard work. Also big thanks to everybody who made it!


Treescape II - acrylic on canvas, 61cm x 84cm

The evening of the night before - acrylic on canvas - 120cm x 150cm

Nocturne - acrylic on canvas - 90cm x 90cm

Moon and Stars - acrylic on canvas - 50cm x 40cm

The Pond at Park Wood - acrylic on canvas - 60cm x 60cm

Treescape IV (Monument) - acrylic on canvas - 120cm x 150cm

exhibition text/ description

Landscape has always provided for me a starting point, a visual trigger, a flexible kind of inspiration for something that may then spiral off in its own direction. Often, this is towards an enhanced or transformed vision of what I’ve seen in actuality.

My work is dominated by the materials in which it is made; for me, the possibilities of the substance are endlessly exciting - the massive potential in colour, texture and surface to create visual intoxication.

My work happens accidentally, spontaneously, and progressively, based on continual response and improvisation. This is partly to free up the material of paint and see what can happen, and to keep the process interesting for myself. It’s also a result of working from photographs. I work from my own landscape photographs, views that I discover and experience on walks. Because the image already exists as a photograph, and the time and place has already been recorded, the subsequent act of painting isn’t to re-display the image, but to tear it apart and put it back together, using paint – with it’s mistakes and accidents – as the driving force for something new. Each piece evolves as a process of deconstruction and reconstruction, via different layers of experimentation. I feel in this way I am able to maintain a certain distance, a certain lack of control, and let the picture make itself to some extent.

In many works I focus on trees in particular. Foliage and natural material is so visually dense that it is usually only ever suggested very abstractly in painting; therefore, I find trees provide a subject matter that adequately enables a clear confluence of figuration and abstraction (an important dialectic in much contemporary painting), and a continually challenging prospect: how to convey this visual richness, depth and vitality in painted marks. Using varied effects, layers, colours and consistencies of paint to convey what in the photograph is viewed as a singular vision is a way of openly referencing pictorial structure, and with it the conventions of landscape, and the pre-constructed meaning associated with the genre due to its long history. In this way, the work can be seen to demonstrate a knowledge of its own rhetorical devises, its own prejudices, and its own historical vulnerability.

However, in this location, I found no impulse to create work of a determinedly textual nature. Being in a new place with many miles to explore, the landscape was too inspiring in itself for me to want to question too far my own concept of it. The images I chose to work on were chosen subjectively not programmatically; for their potential to engage with a sense of time, place and experience in a broad and unspecific way, rather than carrying any specific contextual meaning.


monument (I)

monument (II)

monument (III)


tree study


On the OS map, Hovingham looks like one of the last stops of civilisation before the wilderness of the North Yorkshire moors. It is situated north of York and near to Malton, on the train line up towards Scarborough. The home of the Worsley family is Hovingham Hall ( and they invited me to live in village and make paintings for a while. A very quiet and isolated place, walking was one of my main occupations. The scenery was hugely varied and setting off in different directions revealed places of very different character; dense forest, steep hillsides, rolling valleys, farmland, great country estates and gardens, lakes, rivers, ponds, pubs. I took a vast amount of photos, I have selected a few here that cover some different areas and the changing seasonal conditions; end of summer, autumn, winter, and the beginning of spring.

Notable white horses

Hovingham 2009

Peter Doig, 2002

Paul Gauguin, 1898