Journeys beyond appearance
“If one thinks of appearance as a frontier, one might say that painters search for messages that cross the frontier.” John Berger
Picture-making cannot explain life’s mysteries — but it can make them visible.
A small drawing of a seashell may speak to us of the vast ocean, the passage of time, of human exploration and the scent of our lover’s neck. These are things we know instinctively.
For me, drawing is a way to glimpse these mysteries. A way to find bridges between visible and invisible, across the moving borders of observation, recollection and imagination. Here lies, I hope, spiritual evidence of our being.
It is a solitary process of enquiry, which requires the suspension of disbelief. The journey has a time of its own making, alongside the living time of what is portrayed. And it demands continuous correcting, trying always to capture both the generosity and precision of looking.
It is like trying to make an image of a candle after the flame has been blown out.
I cannot recall a time when I didn’t draw. I have always found it easier than describing in words. It seems my best chance to make experience tangible.
Most of my work is on paper. I have long been in love with fine handmade paper. The slight resistance as a pencil or brush moves across the paper is a challenge that always excites.
My pictures are based upon observational drawing of the landscape, especially gardens. For me, art must seek out the spiritual, and the history of the garden reflects humankind’s quest to recreate the divine. Yet gardening is only a temporary imposition on the natural world, so the drawings are also inevitably about the disintegration of ambition.
Although my drawings are not statements of faith, I want them to have a contemplative stillness, which I believe is the measure of a successful picture.
I cannot think of landscape without also thinking of people. With my drawings I want to manifest the spiritual thinking implied by our cultivated world and in turn reaffirm the mystery and marvel of the natural world.