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The importance of running

When I paint or draw, I am trying to catch at and communicate experiences of being in and moving through a landscape. These experiences are rooted in all the senses and understood as sensations in the body through skin, breath, nose, feet –  and, of course, the eyes.  Less interested in the literal representation of specific places, the works are a sense of these visceral journeys and responses to weather, light and time of year. Most often they are UK based –  Hertfordshire, Cornwall, Yorkshire, East Anglia and the Isle of Wight feature.  One painting referenced 5 hours watching light change on a mountain top in Sri Lanka.

I love it when a viewer encountering a painting forms their own relationship with it. When I am ready to show paintings, what they mean to me and the story behind making them is far less important than the viewers’ experience. I think the truth of a painting is where what I intend and what the viewer sees intersect – like a Venn diagram.

Running, walking, journeying, adventuring and exploring are essential to making paintings. If I don’t do this – then it is as though a spring has run dry and the work becomes tighter, clunkier and more laboured.  Long distance running in particular is fuel for the non-sight senses. After mile 8 one crosses over into a different space – a space experience through skin and air, the beat of feet and breathing.  I recently trained for and then ran a half marathon as a means to maintain this active practice of discovery. The next half marathon will be in the South Downs in June. It sounds hilly and exciting.


Paintings from top:

Wild Woman II, 150 x 110, ink and gesso on birch ply with aluminium subframe, framed white lime waxed wood £2300 (2nd hang at The Other Art Fair)

Pause, 2018, 154 x 100 x 5.5cm, ink and gesso on marine ply, framed white lime waxed wood, £2300

Wild Woman I, 150 x 110, ink and gesso on birch ply with aluminium subframe, framed white lime waxed wood £2300 (2nd hang at The Other Art Fair)

Breathe III, 2018 – is the third in a trio of vertical landscapes which will be launched in the first hang at  The Other Art Fair, 22 – 25th March on stand 63.

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Sneaky peaks of new work to be launched at The Other Art Fair, March 22-25 2018



This year I have been playing with a vertical landscape format – exploring a minimal snippet of land at the bottom of a painting and a vast expanse of sky leaping upwards. You have to view these pieces from a distance – or up close with your  head in the clouds.


Click on the links below to see video clips two of these – 150 x 100 x 3.5cm – (framed dimensions 154 x 104 x 5.5cm)






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Gesso: the memory of being a liquid

Gesso is rabbit skin glue and whiting (effectively chalk) which is made into a thick creamy liquid (soaking of glue + water baths + electric stoves are involved). I squeegee it onto the surface of a sealed wood panel and leave it to dry – repeating this process up to 7 times, often sanding in between each layer – although sometimes choosing not to.

I love gesso because every tiny bump or ridge or flaw responds. It is as though it remembers being a liquid and speaks through ink. I can carve it, sand it, push ink into it and lift it off. I don’t control the image – it evolves through a process of intuition and a willingness to destroy (to ‘kill the little darlings) in order to discover an essence of something else. I don’t know what this is until the painting ceases to irritate me and I no longer need to fight with it.

I first discovered traditional gesso ground not through art history (as perhaps I should have done), but instead, by experiencing the work of artist Rod McIntosh during a visit to his studio. His delicious surfaces, polished smooth with beeswax and milk, held an ink gesture that seemed at once both on the surface and yet embedded into the ‘being-ness’ of the art work.

At the time, I was making figurative sculpture using modelled and carved plaster  and wanted to translate the visceral sense of these works into drawings and paintings. I fell in love with gesso’s ability to hold and reveal the work as though from within itself. That was back in 2011 – ish. I played with indian ink + oil using gesso on board, with drawings, pencil on gesso, dancers, drawings of movement and gesture. Only a few pieces from this period remain unsold.

In  2014, I left London and at this point my practice changed. After 10 years working with the female figure she left (quite literally – danced out of a painting one day) and I was left with the unknown. My dreams were of landscape and sky so I followed them. Gesso became a companion in this continued visceral conversation between memory, lived experience,  and the desire to breathe.