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. I have been delighted to be artist in residence with the Fairhaven Singers for four years. I sketch during their rehearsals in Queen's College chapel while they prepare for concerts. Some of the work developed over the last four years has included the premiere of Jonathan Dove's 'Sappho Sings', Beethoven's Mass in C and Bernstein's Chichester Psalms. I also draw at most concerts I attend and have work developedinresponse to a variety of music ranging from Thomas Tallis to James Macmillan and Will Todd.
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 despite the fact that within human menory we have the shock of hearing what happened in Auschwitz and similar places. while these events may not be on the same scale as the Holocaust, there are echoes of some of the human rights abuses that were experienced to an extreme degree in the Holocaust. Most recently I added to that series with a piece reflecting on the situation in Syria. The plight of children suffering the effects of conflict has also been particularly disturbing, their suffering as a result of bombing, forced migration and human trafficking.
July Open Studios
One main area of interest for me is trying to communicate the experience of listening to music, engaging with its themes, colours and rhythms. I have been privileged in the last few years to be musician in residence with the Fairhaven Singers and have really relished the experience of drawing while they rehearse and developing the images in watercolour, ink and oil paint. The most recent work has been developed from listening to rehearsals of Howard Goodall's 'Invictus'. My mind seemed to be full of dancers and colour as I listened and I used photographs of dancers in The Art of Movement by Browar and Ory as reference material.
I suppose all creative activity is an expression of those aspects of experience that are less easy to express in words or share in words with someone else. Trees have always been a source of delight and wonder for me. They seem to symbolise many aspects of humanity and they contribute to the wellbeing of the planet in many more ways than we do: they also often last longer than we do. I seem to have spent a great deal of time this year drawing and painting trees which has been very life giving.
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.