Fig.1 Pure Verities (2016)
Inspiration and Reoccurring Questions…
Can feelings be transformed into imagery? How to picture what the ‘Eyes were not meant to know’ as poet Emily Dickinson put it, that mysterious process whereby ‘The Inner–paints the Outer–’? In much of my painting, drawing and printmaking I am trying to allude to what’s not visible. The title Pure Verities (2015, [fig.1]) is a reference to the English Renaissance magus John Dee and his efforts to divine ‘the eternal truth underpinning creation’, that alchemy whereby feeling is given form.
The charred dark contours of We Are All Our Own Reliquaries (2016, [fig.2]) mark out the barest shape of a house. A reliquary is a box in which holy objects are kept safe. With this work the cherished ‘contents’ appear gilded, glowing from every surface of the form. In etched, inked and burnished scenes, a bringing together of domestic life past and present. Children who have grown and left home, beloved animals, the lone figure or apparition sitting in her favourite chair: amalgam of endearment, a record of intimate absence.
I delight in late Gothic and early Renaissance painting, finding both the aesthetics and technical expertise wondrous. Despite being extremely stylised all too human emotions are discernable. As in Simone Martini’s Annunciation (1333) where it’s clear from the Virgin Mary’s expression and posture that she does not relish the responsibility angel Gabriel is about to foist upon her. Also in Martini’s Christ Discovered in the Temple (1342, [fig. 3]), when his mother and father confront Jesus, he stands there, arms folded, that recalcitrant teenager’s face looking very familiar.
From the sublime to the everyday, another common inspiration for me are those minute, often barely noticed moments of contact between people. In a work such as Invisible Thread (2016, [fig. 4]) the tightly framed composition engages the viewers’ attention in what is obviously a significant connection: one hand reaching down to clutch at another’s wrist. But the work begs the question as to what’s going on beyond what can be seen. Is this an act of tenderness or one of anxious restraint?
Fig.2 We are All Our Own Relinquaries (2016)
Fig 3 – Simone Martini, Jesus in the Temple (1342)
Fig.4 Invisible Thread (2016)
Fig 5 – Penumbra (2016)