Can you tell me about your practice? How do you get started on a piece of work?
My paintings are autobiographical and self reflective, drawing on existence, experience, memory and the passage of time, to express largely emotional responses through the use of vaguely representational elements and motifs. Questioning, discovery, meaning and understanding are very much part of the creative process for me. Currently all of my paintings are five feet square (always square and I go through periods of working at particular sizes) and always on paper. I will prepare a surface of layers and layers of newsprint and tape and then begin to draw, paint and collage to cover the surface. I will work like that for a period of time, adding, removing and covering until I have a starting point that I’m happy with. My thoughts, emotions and feelings will then influence the direction of the painting, as will the tension/harmony/struggle of the marks and motifs and also of course the isness of the materials themselves. All of these things make the painting.
Who are your biggest influences?
My influences include the abstract expressionists (particularly Cy Twombly), John Hoyland (particularly ‘Broken Bride 13.6.82’), Howard Hodgkin, early David Hockney (particularly ‘We Two Boys Together Clinging’), David Lynch and Fyodor Dostoevsky. Music is also very inspirational and influential and I’m currently listening to Black Midi.
Can you talk about ‘isness’ and it’s role in your practice?
My interest in the ‘materials’ of painting started at University (LJMU) where a wonderful tutor, Roy Holt, spoke to me about the ‘isness’ of the materials that I was using. He spoke about the simple fact that paint and paper will behave in certain ways because they have certain properties or an ‘isness’ - This is paint and this is paper and this is what they do, and indeed to embrace that completely. The isness now (of life) also takes on an existential meaning that very much feeds into my work. I don’t fully understand this aspect, but I’m completely happy with that. I embrace exploration and the ‘not knowing’.
How important is material in your work?
I made a decision some time ago to paint solely on paper. It just feels right to me and excites me every time I start a painting. I think one some level it is because of the perceived throw away nature and unpreciousness of the material. I enjoy pushing the materials I use to their limits (and beyond) and then adjust the direction of the painting as a result. The simple fact that paper stretches, droops, crinkles and tears interests me greatly - and I can't imagine painting on a traditional canvas surface. I work with various different consistencies of paint also - however the runnier the better! But oil, acrylic, emulsion, glosses and now spray paint (and many variations of) all go into a painting.
What is your most important tool? Is there something you can’t live without in your studio?
Runny paint! And big brushes. I’m obsessed with and completely in love with paint. Every time I interact with paint and paper, I experience and learn something new.
Can you give us a book recommendation that has been important in your practice? And tell us why it’s important.
Recently I have thoroughly enjoyed Paul Winstanley’s ’59 Paintings’ book and Paul Moorhouse’s book on John Virtue – Both incredibly readable, informative, thought provoking and splendid!
Finally, is there anything new coming up that you would like to tell us about?
I have a solo exhibition at 66 – 68 Humber Street in Hull (19th – 27th June) that I am preparing for. I’ve collaborated with POLYMER (@polymermusic) for the exhibition, who has composed ambient soundscapes to accompany my paintings – something very new to me – and very exciting.
All images courtesy of the artist