but the language of nature to which one has to listen.
Vincent van Gogh
NEW WORK 2013 –
I have lived by the sea for most of my life and here, in Roaring Water Bay, on the far western Atlantic fringes of Europe, I face new challenges. Stretching out before me, a vast, meandering sweep of land spits, inlets and islands, beyond which lies the Fastnet rock and nothing more. I walk this rugged coastline each day, empowered by the ever changing swings of dark and light; from sudden storm to sunlit calm, unsettling and reassuring all in one moment, continually stirring the senses. By living the experience day after day, continually observing and gathering information, I become part of the place, working with no defining plan or structure, governed only by the tidal clock and extremes of ocean wind and weather.
In Cornwall, I focused on the geology, the fabric of the tide line, the tangible relationship between land and sea. On the edge of Roaring Water Bay I feel closer to the elements, to the unpredictable power of the ocean. I am driven to attempt more, to respond in some way to the unfolding drama, the endless expanse of space. In my latest work I have tried to capture a feeling, a fleeting moment, interpreting my experiences in a new way, exploring the freedoms of painting without guidelines or prior vision for the outcome.
Preparing the working surface is an important part of my creative process. I build textures and marks into the layers of gesso, sometimes sanding it smooth, or carving back into it until the ground takes on an uneven, distressed quality. This enhances the application of the colour, adding movement and shape, influencing the flow and direction of the painting’s early stages. I use oil or acrylic, most often on board or coated paper. I work instinctively, applying colour in translucent layers, painting purely from memory until a glimpse, a sense of place slowly begins to emerge from the ground. I continue to allow the colours and feel of the painting to evolve freely, to develop organically without structure, horizon or expectation, until eventually, I find myself in a landscape or seascape that I come to recognise. At this point the painting starts to come to life and I embark on an intensive, somewhat meditative journey as I attempt to recreate something of the mood and mystery of this far reaching, mercurial place.
As I continue to explore the Mizen peninsula, with its ancient sites, dramatic hills and mountains, I experience such breathtaking sweeps of colour, atmosphere and ocean light, I am inspired at the deepest level. In Ireland I feel closer to nature. Here I have found the peace and isolation I crave and I can be still.
Way out to the West,
Comes the roar of ocean water,
Nothing more and nothing less.