At the start of lockdown, I felt very stuck. My habits from which, if I am honest, I was already slowly trying to break free, were disrupted. I was used to responding to my surroundings and through process, serendipity, memory, chance and imagination, pushing the prints and paintings to somewhere that felt transcendent and captivating.
For a few years the suburban area in which I live in the Northeast of England on the North Sea coast had provided a fertile ground for me, a meeting of suburban order, lives lived tidily, peacefully and busily pushing against the wilder forces of weather, animals and elements. Although humans did not appear in this work, the images were resonant with their presence. Lockdown has revealed to me, more than ever, how the ticking over of these lives against a background of something less certain was at the heart of this work.
Both this feeling of being stuck for material and the pulse of lockdown life are behind the series of ten etchings called A Soap Opera. The series depicts the same house over an ambiguous time period, repeated over and over with minute changes in colour, light and little details. The prints were made in my garden shed studio between December 2020 and March 2021, a period that we came to know as Lockdown 2 and are loosely based on a house that I can just see from my window that hijacked my attention as I sat on the sofa watching the news during the bewildering evenings of the first Lockdown.
Since finishing this series, I have been painting in my studio and developing work that is anchored less in the experience of my physical surroundings and more loosely contained by the experience of being in the studio where the materiality of the media meets a jumble of consciousness and the work evolves out of a pool of memory, imagined memory, references to art history and popular culture, film, tv, music and books. The work has become both more personal and wider in scope. Less about place and more about a complex experience of being conscious in the context of wider human experience.
My work is in a process of metamorphosis with themes emerging, but conclusions not yet arrived at, and it is this gradual evolution that my fist show at the art stable highlights.
As Henry Miller said “everything remains unsettled forever depend on it”