I’ve always been a painter. It has seemed to be a normal and sensible thing to do; even though it does not look this way to others. It is the ‘other’ activities that look abnormal and odd to me.
Painting has its own momentum; it is a journey towards an aspect of truth that cannot be apprehended in any other way. It is a journey that is never finished since what one has done in the past is never what one wants to do now. One changes and ones pictures change with one, but I do not know if I’m hurrying to catch up with my paintings or if my paintings are hurrying to catch up with me.
My paintings and drawings fall into two categories; paintings and drawings made directly from nature, and work that I make completely out of my head. This second aspect of my pictorial nature was largely generated by a scholarship to Italy when I was 21. While I was there I came under the spell of the great cycles of frescos that adorn many Italian churches. I still want to paint large pictures of religious subjects that illustrate my catholic faith, and I would like these paintings to be housed in churches. I have, as it happens, twice filled or nearly filled, cathedral sized churches with my work; once in Southwark Cathedral and once in Southwell Minster, but these works have come back to me or have been sold elsewhere.
To paint is to meditate, not to compete, in fact to be a reasonable painter now one has to be almost anti competitive. We need to close ranks against a tide of commercially generated imagery, an imagery that has become virtually ubiquitous. Some of my happiest moments have been spent with other artists, often fellow teachers, in large classes in which we mutually define ourselves in loving fellowship with each other. Such occasions seem to trigger new stages of my/our work. The meditation that takes place as work before nature consists of a constant consideration of the role of the individual beats, or sensations, within the total context of the rectangle with which I’m working on. The differences between my subject matter, my materials and myself challenge me to experience something, or rather Someone, who gave rise to these things. St Teresa ‘saw’ the whole of creation as a many faceted crystal held in the mind of God. I aspire to the same vision – painting is an attempt to share it.
I have made several versions of the “Life of Christ” in as many as 91 individual works.As I read the gospels I imagine the people and places they refer to, and, to a certain extent, ‘see’ them. Taking a design through various stages of drawing, etching and painting, gradually clarifies my vision and the understanding of the text. As I attempt to build a credible space the personalities and protagonists become more focused and their relationship to each other more exact.
Line is important and colour a joy. The motif for a painting is love.
The series of the life of Christ awaits completion in large canvases, but where shall I put them? If any of the smaller paintings appeal to you, you might consider commissioning a ‘final’ version!