Form before image

Ritual Piece - intended to evoke mystical, primeval feelings

I create naturalistic paintings and sculpture using mainly oil paints and marble.  I work at my own studio and gallery in mid-Norfolk, United Kingdom, which I converted in the 1990s.  My creations have never had a single theme, although I believe the body of work has coherence.  My use of colour by glazing, in particular, is consistent and individual to me.

Sculpture is primarily the art of relating mass to space – and creating form.  For me, form always comes before image.  In painting, likewise, my interest is in the Titian/Venetian approach rather than the Florentine – finding the form from the inside out, and not to draw line defining the form and restricting colour to that line.  I try to discover universal references that have always been – and always will be – with us. I have no interest in fashionable art movements that blossom and fade.

I do not work from life.  Direct observation tends to come between my work and nature.  I may study a tree, but I then go into the studio and reinvent it from memory on the canvas.  I used to teach modelling from live models, and when carving I use the knowledge gleaned from that experience.

I believe that good art should develop, manipulate and re-examine past experience, without doing away with discipline or knowledge.  In my view sensationalism is too often self-conscious, and does not last.  It is not the function of art to produce a momentary, trivial experience.

But art should be disturbing – paintings are not wallpaper!  It should resonate with deeply held feelings and instincts, and reflect universal truths we all recognise but sometimes fear.

I do not date my work or say which pieces are the most recent because I can almost completely rework or add to pieces from years back.  I like a painting to 'mature' on the wall over time, and only then (if I no longer wish to change it) do I regard it as finished.

Turning Head - inspired by a van Dyck portrait

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