A born and bred Londoner, in 2014 I found that my work was getting faster and faster. It seemed to be rushing forward towards something. I already had a studio as part of a 5 year fellowship with Digswell Arts and commuted daily to Digswell. Then one day, the thought popped into my head, “shall I move to St Albans?”, within the month I had found a shared house and moved. At that time I had been drawing dancers and performers in rehearsal, then creating paintings from those drawings. The works had a symbolic language. At the time, I had a forthcoming two person show with Ross Loveday at Watford Museum and I watched in horror as the figure in my work danced out of it. Having explored the figure through sculpture, painting and drawing all my life, I had no idea what to do next…. except that when I closed my eyes, the sky and horizon dominated. My body told me to run, so I did. Getting up on winter mornings and heading out in the dark, I paced my new surroundings, pounding its geography into my muscles through the soles of my feet and breath. It felt as though overnight my practice changed. I had my first show with The Other Art Fair in autumn 2015 and debuted the new collection of works. I was blown away by the response. I discovered that our common experience of land and sky is immensely powerful. I loved the stories that emerged from those I talked with. Three years on I am still inspired by land, sky and weather – and crave to be outdoors every day. The conversations with viewers and collectors continue to nourish, inspire and motivate.
More recently, I have returned to that early process of walking and drawing first thing. Stepping out into the dark is magic – the world envelopes you in blue and grey, gradually becoming sepia and gold as the day emerges from night. At first it is silent, just the rustle of feet, the breath and an occasional owl, then comes the clough of pheasants, the cars, the rustlings and peeps of other birds.
The featured image is one of the first from that early collection of works. It holds the rawness of new experience in the early push and play of gesso, woodcarving tools and sandpaper.
In thinking about new work, I am acutely aware of a tension between abstraction and figuration – the tightness of working with representation versus the looseness of gesture and the emotion of marks. Those early works hold the simple rawness of my love of the natural world. I hold them in mind as I create new pieces for next year and try to take more risks, to hold space.