My paintings are, in the main, large, sculptural statements.
I find that expansive big canvases can absorb the viewer, perhaps share the experience of the elemental scale of the theme being explored. Even some of my pen and ink drawings are on a relatively large scale despite their fine grain detail.
The ancient and decaying trees of Savernake Forest are a longstanding fascination. Gnarled and rotting ancient trees expose their innards in quasi-biological detail.
Other themes: Natural phenomena, landscape, huge skies and chalk downland. Also the human form, patterns of people and birds in flight. Piles of waste and detritus as rolling downs await the same fate as the crustaceans that had created the chalk downs. For the disturbing scenes of destruction from Syria I developed a more medieval approach reflecting the shocking mindset
I originally studied architecture at the Architectural Association in the mid 1960s when it was a hot bed of revolutionary thinking about the built environment. Having pursued painting, drawing and ’collecting’ European churches all my early life, I was less interested in the avant-garde and gravitated towards conservation work.
Whilst qualifying as an architect I went to evening classes at Byam Shaw and continued to paint throughout my architectural career in Windsor. Later I took a career break to attend Falmouth School of Art, where I obtained a first class honours degree in Fine Art, majoring in sculpture.
Image: Standing Figure, Falmouth – 1979
I moved to Devizes in Wiltshire with my family to once again take up architecture. Most of my time was spent designing retirement homes, new churches and vicarages for the Church of England, as well as some conservation work across the southern region.
The only project I undertook in Devizes, however, turned out to be one of the most interesting: the conversion of the large premises that used to house Courts Furnishing in the High Street, next door to what was the stationers, Springford and Rose, but is now Spirit dress shop.
Property developer, Peter Triggs, wanted to convert the rambling old store into a complex of small shop units. However, we uncovered a sixteenth century stone fireplace on the first floor, beautiful beams and other historic features including an arched entrance which affected the original plans. The result was a new shopping complex that added considerably to the character of this part of the town centre.
I tried to work part time in order to paint but it was impractical and eventually abandoned architecture to paint full time in 2007. Returning to painting late in my career was like going home. Looking back I realise I valued the fresh thinking at the AA and still do – even more so!
Image: Old Swan Yard, Devizes – 1989
As a child, touring Britain on holiday with my parents, I ‘collected’ churches. Later, whilst travelling through Europe, impressive Romanesque architecture virtually entered my DNA. Their massing, vast spaces, rhythm and sculpture.
I would also spend hours browsing in Westminster public library studying illustrations of great artists: Cezanne and Paul Nash resonated the most. Later came Goya and Matisse.
Music plays an important part when painting, expressing rhythm, movement and harmony that I strive for in my own work.
Image: Tewkesbury Abbey, Gloucestershire
My paintings hang on office walls, in large houses where there is the luxury of space but also in modest spaces. Take a look at some of my paintings in situ here.
Image: ‘Just in Time’ at home in Dulwich, private collection, 150 x 120cm
My preferred materials are Spectrum oil paints on Whaleys cotton canvas primed with acrylic Gesso primer. The paintings are deliberately unframed and kept simple.
Top photo by Michael Angove