Drawings and sketches
Van Gogh is reported to have said that trees are metaphors for humanity and I am very drawn to trees in that context so am always drawing them. I am also very interested in Thomas Merton's comment, 'The gate of heaven is everywhere.'
I really enjoy drawing and painting while listening to music. The images emerge from ideas explored in the music or simply express the mood and rhythm of the music; generally the drawings include both responses. Live music is the most satisfying environment for this and I always take a sketchbook to concerts. This year I have been delighted to be artist in residence with the Fairhaven Singers for the fourth year. I have been sketching during their rehearsals in Queen's College chapel while they prepared for the premiere of Jonathan Dove's 'Sappho Sings' as well as Beethoven's Mass in C. The concert took place in March at the Apex in Bury St Edmunds and the following week in Trinity College Chapel. Sappho Sings is in six movements and I have developed one painting in oil for each movement. The work measures 80x100cm. They will be on display at my Open Studio along with some work based on Beethoven's Mass in C which is in ink and watercolour; again, I have produced work on each part of the piece.
Landscape and cityscape
My landscapes are all oil paintings, usually quite textured as I like painting with a knife as well as brushes. They include landscapes of Cambridge, Histon and the local area. Last year Autumn was particularly colourful and I was fascinated by the last of the leaves which hung like gems on the bare branches and by the whirling colour as the bright branches moved in the breeze. Most of my landscapes are about light, colour and rhythm.
Sadly, each year there are disturbing reports of violations of human rights. I have painted a series of oil paintings entitled 'After Auschwitz', reflecting on the human rights abuses which still occur event though within human menory we have the shock of hearing what happened in Auschwitz and similar places. I added to that series with a reflection on the gas attack in Idlib. In addition, drawing while the Fairhaven Singers rehearsed James MacMillan's St Luke's Passion inevitably led to drawing comparisons with the experience of parents watching their children suffer in areas of conflict.
July Open Studios
I usually work with oil on canvas when painting from the landscape and in the city. My landscapes are mainly figurative but are quite textured as I usually paint with a knife. Most of my paintings are about colour, texture and rhythm in the landscape, the city, still life and in music.
This year I have been artist in residence with the Fairhaven Singers for the fourth year and have really enjoyed being immersed in the depth and richness of Beethoven's Mass in C. I responded to the music by drawing in ink and watercolour, using the ink applied with a brush to echo the freedom of the initial charcoal sketches drawn in rehearsal.The choir sang the premiere of Jonathan Dove's setting of some of Sappho's poetic fragments, translated by Alasdair Middleton. The poetry is 'spare' but very evocative and I found the music layered, colourful and sparkling. I have tried to express the ideas in the peotic fragments and the feel of the music using colour, line and texture in six large oil paintings.
It is several years since I have explored still life but the richness of colour of some fruit and objects in late summer and at Christmas seduced me back into painting some small pieces of work.
The scale of the work ranges from about 30x30cm to 80x100cm.
My work can be seen in local exhibitions and on the Cambridge Open Studios website; I have exhibited with Cambridge Open Studios since 2004.