Much of my painting is inspired by my responses to different places, both over periods of time that allow a deeper engagement with that place but also - deliberately - fleeting impressions from just passing through. From my work as a travel writer I am intrigued by the pictures and perceptions we build of places over time, how we get our bearings and take views on places we visit for the first time.
Working as an artist in residence is a privileged way of getting know places - and usually the people working there - over a longer time. I have worked as artist in residence at Blackwell, the historic bookshop in Oxford, to produce a series of paintings called ‘The Way We Work Now’; I have also painted images of people at work at their desks in the City, and worked with Oxford Operatic Society during rehearsals for their stage production of 42nd Street. I am always happy to discuss new opportunities to work alongside other people in their day-to-day settings.
The depiction of specific times and places in film is another starting point for exploration. The paintings inspired by ‘The End of the Affair’, based on the novel by Graham Greene, explore the presence and absence of the central female character. Taking a still image out of the rolling narrative strips away its (social) context, and stepping off the moving walkway to linger over one image can become uncomfortably voyeuristic.
Many of my drawings and paintings explore urban, suburban and coastal environments, but in future I hope to bring my art and urban communication practices together more directly. Through my work in Bankside and London Bridge I have built up some knowledge of an historic city centre quarter in transition. Communicating that change through words and photographs, online or in print, is a quick and effective way to reach hundreds, even thousands of people. But it is often a means to an end, to convey information that can be seen and then, because it is ubiquitous, forgotten.
Exploring this process through oil painting invites a more deliberative engagement with the city - inviting, I hope, deeper thought on what is happening around us, bringing a new perspective to the way our surroundings evolve as this new topography emerges. And just like oil painting it is not just building up but also scraping back - the process of creating new structures brings the chance to explore beneath the surface being replaced and the archaeologist's trowel digs into the hidden city bringing a rediscovered past to the surface.