at Origin from 13th April 2018
opening by Historian and Broadcaster
This body of work continues my exploration of time, place and memory, the paintings are sited in the ‘designed’ landscape of the garden and visually reference abandoned buildings, overgrown glasshouses, follies, grottos and shell houses. These are dreamy places, places of escape connecting us backwards in time and inward to the self, they exist as manifestations of our relationship with the natural world and as monuments to human aspiration, memory and ultimately mortality.
Influenced in part by Wabi Sabi philosophy of ‘beauty in imperfection’ the paintings incorporate loose depictions of natural and manmade elements in asymmetrical and incomplete forms. The process relies on layering and erasure, juxtaposition of the detailed and the obscure and a combination of painterly control and accident.
The imagery in these paintings acts as a compositional device and foil to painterly concerns, balancing the image with the abstract and material possibilities of a painted surface. The motifs and structures used suggest things that have a ‘presence’ if no particular function, their purpose seemingly less important than their striking form and placement in the landscape.
Visits to gardens such as Villa Cimbrone on the Amalfi coast, La Mortella in Ischia and the Ninfa Gardens south of Rome provided a stimulus for this body of work. The Ninfa Gardens in particular, created by Gelasio Caetani in the 1920’s encapsulates many of the elements that interest me – sited amid the long-abandoned ruins of a medieval town, this is a place where reality seem to soften at the edges, the combination of location, history, colour, texture and scent combine to provide an experience that is simultaneously emotive, evocative and sensual. Described as a place “where time seems to stand still,” I found them magical from the outset; possessing a sensibility that combined joyful celebration and intense pathos; it is this sensibility that I explore in my paintings.
ABOUT THE ARTIST