ABOUT

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.

Themes:

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.

BACKGROUND

Standing figure. Falmouth School of Art, 1979
Standing Figure, Falmouth – 1979

I originally studied architecture at the Architectural Association in the mid 1960s when it was a hotbed 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. I continued to paint throughout my architectural career in Windsor, but later took a career break to attend Falmouth School of Art, where I obtained a first class honours degree in Fine Art, majoring in sculpture.

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 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 Springford and Rose (now Spirit dress shop).

Old Swan Yard, Devizes
Old Swan Yard, Devizes – 1989

The developer, Peter Triggs, wanted to convert the property into a complex of small shop units. However, we uncovered a sixteenth century stone fireplace on the first floor, beautiful beams and other important features including an arched entrance which affected the original plans, considerably adding 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 painted 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!

INFLUENCES

Tewkesbury Abbey

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.

INSTALLATIONS

JUST IN TIME At home in Dulwich, private collection, 150 x 120cm

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

MATERIALS

My preferred materials are Spectrum oil paints on Whaleys cotton canvas primed with acrylic Gesso primer.  The paintings are deliberately unframed and kept simple. 

Other media are ink, charcoal, oil pastels, water colours and graphite mainly supplied by Cornellisen, London, and The White Horse Bookshop, Marlborough.

Top photo by Michael Angove