Reclamation Series 1

The Colour Purple

The Colour Purple

 In creating this, the last of the paintings in my trilogy on reclaiming my identity,  I realised that there is a strong influence of Peter Doig who I’ve referenced before. He says more of an outsider than anything. “People will ask me where I’m from, and I say, ‘Well, I’m from here,’ and they may be surprised. 

I’ve named this painting: “The Colour Purple” referencing Alice Walker’s novel of the same name.  Celie, the protagonist believes that once she gets self- identity, she can have the right to enjoy the purple, her most favourite/favouring colour.

Hence this piece has a complex layering of colour and landscaping which creates its own visual language. Deliberately, here is a nameless landscape in the middle of a barren land, of no specific time.  I hope to incorporate figures into landscapes as the year moves on.


“Roots are not in landscape or a country, or a people, they are inside you.” Isabel Allende
The name alone is evocative: Roots. There are so many phrases and colloquialisms that remind us of the connection we supposedly have to our roots. Never forget your roots, we are told in so many ways in so many words. My thoughts go beyond this, because as Mother Theresa said: “Yesterday is gone. Tomorrow has not yet come. We have only today. Let us begin.”

Roots, Acrylic and mixed media On Dibond, 60x60cm

I’m looking at ways of embodying the figurative and symbolic elements into my art as part of an ongoing narrative of my coming to terms with my identity, both in terms of heritage and self. This will remain part of an ongoing conversation with myself, others and research. What I love is the power of art to tell stories, communicate ideas, and promote understanding of the world around us.
As artists, so much informs what we do. Here, I’m sure, the ‘decorated caves’ of Lascaux were a visual resource. As you know Lascaux is famous for its Palaeolithic cave paintings found in the Dordogne region of southwestern France which we have visited a few times.

The past is in my head: the future is in my hands.

The anonymity of the androgynous figures in my painting sits well with the start of my series which will take time to develop. The older I get, the more wisdom I gain. However, I nearly overworked this by introducing a pop of complementary hot pink and tried orange. Neither were successful.

In trying to choose colours to decorate a bedroom, I’m embarrassed to admit how many “Little Greene” tester pots I used, so put them to good use here! They will feature in future work, too!

What’s in a name?

“What’s in a name? That which we call a rose, By any other name would smell as sweet.”Shakespeare

Getting ready for @surreyartistopenstudios and uncharacteristically, I was stumped for a title for this ink study. Eventually, I had a light bulb moment to call it:
“Lean on me”

Ink work on paper, framed 60.5 x 43 cm £125

In “Romeo and Juliet” Juliet asks this very question. For her, it is not a name which gives a thing its essential qualities. A name in fact is arbitrary; a rose would still smell sweet even if it were not called a rose.

In “Julius Caesar the wrong Cinna is murdered! Just saying!

For me, choosing a name/title for an artwork is important. I may choose a title, before, during or after a piece. I often resort to literature, my emotional response, and occasionally, the literal. It has to be short, as encompassing and expansive as possible to enable room for the viewer to have their own interpretation. Allowing others to find their own meaning in your work is not just generous, but also increases the likelihood that someone will personally interpret and then, as a result, purchase your Art.

How do you choose a name for your artwork? Do you choose it before, during or after? Or do you sometimes give it a number? Does it need a name at all?

Covid Constrained Compositions – 2

“The plague Bacillus never dies or disappears for good: it can lie dormant for years and years in furniture and linen chests”. From The Plague by Albert Camus.

Camus’ novel encourages the readers to ponder on the meaning and values of our society, on the lack of humanity of its social roles when in times of crisis. Are we able to preserve ourselves and each other when the worst descends?

Long before Camus, literature has reflected on social confinement e.g. Defoe’s Journal of the Plague Year, through to Mandela’s “Long Walk to Freedom”.

Have you ever wondered whether you are truly protected from infectious diseases ranging from the common cold to more deadly threats like rabies or bird flu? When you travel, are you protected from the many infections abroad?

According to most histories, the Spanish Flu ended in 1920. This is wrong: it did not end, and the virus did not stop killing. Spanish Flu’s descendants, in fact, are still with us, with different variants; each year carrying the potential to kill.

The reality is that over the years this is likely to lead to coronavirus becoming just another of the seasonal viruses we experience every year. This is not meant to sound morbid but to paint a picture of the “new normal”. Our social interactions have changed already. Even a simple greeting of “How are you?” carries the subtext: “Are you infectious?”


Series C3. 2: Bacilli reflects the bubbles we create to protect ourselves from the ever-present-mutating virus. The image is also positive because, in epidemiology, the aim is to reduce risk as much as possible. I suspect that in creating this work, my recent reading about the pioneering, yet neglected, Swedish abstract artist , Hilma af Klint had a strong influence.

Recently, I overheard someone utter the acronym, BC, which I have always playfully used to represent, “Before Children”. In this case, it translated into, “Before Covid”.

So, returning to the way we were before COVID-19 is not an option. The challenge, and I think the opportunity, is to start the process of thinking about a “new normal” now.

C3 Series – Covid Constrained Compositions

“The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but having new eyes” Marcel Proust

Introducing the C3 Series – Covid Constrained Compositions

I had intended this series to be a geological reflection of the Jurassic coast, referencing the Durdle Door. However, all I could think of was the enforced stasis we’re in and the inability to plan ahead due to the coronavirus pandemic. Restricted choice presents challenges to us as our physical interactions are limited and our daily routines have been curtailed. I felt I wanted to record these times.

Previous plagues such as the Black Death or 1918 influenza pandemic had huge ramifications for the world afterwards. The aftermath of this coronavirus pandemic will also see myriad changes, from personal adjustments to global shifts.

Behind all the suffering and disruption and economic hardship of the coronavirus pandemic, an even larger global crisis is lurking: climate change.

When the world stays home, the planet benefits. There’s nothing good about the coronavirus, but with a ban on non-essential travel and some countries in lockdown, we’re able to witness what happens to the Earth when we’re largely absent for the first time.

The first painting in the series represents the division between Hope and reality but also the consequences of reduced travelling whether locally or abroad. I enjoyed playing with the textures which subconsciously evolved into a reverse image of Cornish landscape, reflecting the reversal of our hopes to spend time there before Christmas.


Actions Have Consequences

My latest contribution published by The Pandemic Lens:

“Brexit Despair,” mixed media on canvas, 60 x 60 cm

The UK is now counting down the days to the biggest fall out in the nation’s history. Not only are we leaving the European Union, but the threat of leaving without a deal is imminent. A “no deal” Brexit does what it says on the tin. It means the UK and the EU are unable to reach an agreement and there will be a sharp end to the transition period—effectively a fall out! Even if a limited deal is reached it will still isolate the UK from the rest of Europe. Yes, there is a valid question as to whether the sheer breadth and depth of the economic crisis caused by the pandemic suggests that the impact of Brexit will be largely irrelevant.

Why am I concerned?
It’s not just the concern about the UK having to revert to World Trade Organisation rules on trade and consumers facing increased costs of imported goods, with the country suffering the reduced competitiveness of exports to the EU as a result of tariffs and trade barriers.
It’s not just the concern that Britain loses out on some vital EU subsidies such as those from the European Regional Development Fund.
It’s not just the concern regarding the reneging on agreements for avoiding a hard border with Northern Ireland. I could go on.

So what is my concern?
It’s the arrogant lack of willingness to negotiate a future relationship that invites regional co-operation which is the prevalent political pattern developing globally.

Why am I concerned?
It’s the lack of foresight in considering the younger generation and those to come.

A personal note of June 2016 sums up my concern and will remain engraved in my memory. It was an afternoon spent with family and friends, celebrating our son’s epic four year achievement to complete a self-styled Olympic Challenge: to compete or take part in all the forty-one disciplines that would qualify for the Olympics in Rio 2016. A day that should have been a celebration of this exceptional feat turned out to be the voicing of young people’s shock and despair about an older generation disenfranchising their future. They believed that if the Brexit vote had been decided by young people, the UK would likely have stayed in the EU. Although it’s true there are no official age break downs of how people voted in the referendum, polls suggest that 72-75% of under 25s backed Remain.

Most young British people have grown up taking for granted the freedom of movement that allowed them to study and work anywhere in the EU without bureaucratic hurdles. In essence the young feel cheated by Brexit.

“Brexit Despair” is my delayed, artistic response to my concern regarding the actions taken.

Lockdown-2 Art

Like many amateur artists, I occasionally suffer from imposter syndrome or become frustrated when an artwork is not going in the direction I want it to travel. When I’m in this lockdown frame of mind I need to tell myself to trust and enjoy the process. As the Black writer, Alice Walker once said: “We should learn to accept that change is truly the only thing that’s going on always, and learn to ride with it and enjoy it”.

“Walking in the Blue 1” , Acrylic on canvas sheet 40 x 51cm

This is the first of two calm landscapes in blue. Both serve as a symbol of hope, love, strength and friendship. Landscapes invite a natural connection which enables people to engage, regroup and relax. 
You might have seen or heard about dead trees in the countryside being given a ‘blue’ lease on life with a message for a great cause.  It originated in Western Australia, when a family painted a dead tree blue in the middle of their farm in commemoration of their son who committed suicide.  After posting a photo of the tree on Facebook, it soon went viral which prompted the Blue Tree Project to help raise awareness about mental health and suicide prevention. 

“Walking in the Blue 2”, Acrylic on canvas sheet 40 x 51cm

Navigating self care is hard and it is not being selfish. During challenging times, it may seem as though we don’t have enough time to practice self-care and it can slide down our priorities list. But even five minutes of focusing on our breath or stretching can help us, or even going for a walk, even for a short time. For me today, it’s walking in the rain and remembering to smile even if I don’t feel like it. These small moments of self-care build up to produce a more resilient version of ourselves over time and they help to strengthen our coping mechanisms.

Small changes can help you find a sense of balance as we move through different phases of the pandemic. Remember that action comes before motivation. So find time occasionally to press the pause button and switch off your mobile. Above all be kind to yourself!

“Stimulus and Response”, Acrylic and ink on canvas paper 40 x 51 cm
“Winter Evening on Hindhead Common”, Acrylic and Mixed Media on canvas paper
35 x 46 cm

Memory Reels

Acrylic & mixed media on board 60 x 60 cm

One of the areas the poet and novelist Rainer Maria Rilke liked to explore was how our memories make us who we are. I’ve used a few old photographic contact sheets to embrace the theme.

I like a good title and had initially focused on the blue-green pairing. In doing so, I found it interesting to learn that when black and white films were originally made, filmmakers struggled with the sensitivities of blue and green.

Abstracts can be such a challenge and resolving this one has taken three months. For once, I can say I’m satisfied with the results. About to get it covered in clear resin. So watch this space….



Another lockdown piece.

Acrylic on Wood with crystals