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 fifth year and have really enjoyed the challenge of working from Howard Goodall's 'Invictus'. I usually paint from music developing more abstract shapes and expressing my response in colour and rhythm but Invictus explores aspects of the Passion story and its resonances with human experience so I have developed some work which includes figures. Invictus explores suffering, courage and compassion and is full of hope, which I have tried to express in my work. The work based on Purcell's, 'My heart is indited' and 'Praise the Lord, O Jerusalem' tries to capture the energy and atmosphere of transcendence of the pieces.
My lanscapes this year are mostly of the local area; trees on The Backs, fields near Histon, the Green, for example. I have also been painting tree trunks in the Botanic gardens having been inspired by Van Gogh's paintings of tree trunks in a recent exhibition. The nearby allotments are also a favourite source of subject matter, last summer I painted some wonderful sunflowers growing, flourishing and decaying.
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.