on the power of painting and musical composition
Can you tell us about your most recent exhibitions?
My most recent exhibition was a solo show “Saints of the Machine” at Surgery gallery in Hoxton. I exhibited five new oil paintings on linen which explore the idea of machines, female archetypes amongst alien and distant landscapes. I chose five paintings for the show that I think worked well together and informed each other. Three paintings featured a central female figure and two have a machine as the central object. The landscapes that they inhabit have a distant or other planet feel to them and they seem unfamiliar or perhaps in the realm of the psyche.
It was interesting to hear other peoples view of the paintings and to have them come to see them physically not only digitally. I found the feedback to be interesting as viewers made connections in their own mind to other references in popular culture or in their own thoughts and experiences while viewing the work.
Do you have a favourite subject to paint?
Recently I’ve been painting female subjects and machines. I often look at fashion photography and try to combine different elements together with my own imagination as I’m interested in costume, masks, veils and headdresses which look ritualistic in some way. I like to juxtapose these with engine parts and find it interesting to work with such contrasting subjects.
You use a mix of Watercolour, ink, gouache and pen. Why have you chosen this mix of mediums?
The materials I use are mostly chosen for the outcome I am looking for depending on their opacity, fluidity and texture. I like to try mediums that challenge my way of working or introduce a variety of ways that the paint will behave. Some materials have limits and other materials can make up for these limitations. I am also working with oil paint on linen or canvas and like to use a variety mixing mediums to achieve different results in the paint and texture.
What will be your focus in your upcoming projects?
I think my work will direct me where it wants to go next. I am very drawn to the mystery element in my work where the painting has the ability to keep you looking back again and again, raising more questions than it does give answers. I find that I engage best with work that has the ability to do this. There are more paintings from the “Saints of the Machine” series which I have yet to exhibit, and I would like in the future to exhibit in a larger space so that I can include more works.
How did you develop your creative painting style / signature?
I look at a lot of paintings, preferably I like to view painting in the flesh as much as possible and get to the big shows as well as the smaller shows. To me it’s important to look at work to get a sense of scale and to be able to look at the marks made, the use of colour and the materials used and the best way to do this is to view a painting physically. I think I look for my favourite parts, or marks, the palette and probably unconsciously I work my favourite elements into my own work. Understanding colour has been an important factor but also knowing what is worth painting, what is a strong image to work with and what won’t work. Then there is knowing when to stop and when to keep going with a painting. These are all things that I’ve developed with experience, together with my own personal taste.
What is your process when creating music?
These days I am making musical compositions using a combination of samplers, keyboard and synths, self built and designed electronic circuits, field recordings and vocals. I try to avoid using screens or laptops when composing music as I like to only use my ears, feeling and intuition when working rather than looking at a waveform on a screen. I am using a combination of sample packs and field recordings that I’ve recording in various places that I’ve visited. I like to explore place and psychogeography and am interested in the way that listening to a recording of a place can trigger a memory of that place in a way that a photograph might not be able to. When the field recording is used in a larger composition it intermingles with other sounds and they take on a new life and can transform into journeys with sound.
How do you want people to respond to your work both musically and your paintings?
Music and painting are disciplines that have the ability to transport the listener to a place that stimulates emotion and shift or alter consciousness. I like it when I am on the same page as the listener or viewer creating a window of experience. I see art as a form of ritual and particularly in a live music setting it can be rewarding to have a sense that those participating as viewers can share in the ritual in some way. The idea of art as ritual does not have to be fixed or to abide to a set of specific rules but I think that the act of creating can be a powerful form of ritual.
Saints of the Machine
Did you reference any notable saints in your art?
At the time of painting these works I did not have a particular saint in mind but I was interested in the belief in a supernatural being and some of the portraits seem to be not from this world in some way, whether alien or from another time and place. I noticed there was something Saint-like in the figures after I’d painted them
and they seemed to reference the archetype of the saint.
What drew you to intricately look at car parts?
Cars first appeared in my work when I was looking at old slide photography from the 50’s-70’s which often featured cars. These were used as source material for my “Road Trip” series which feature a lot of classic cars in surreal landscapes. Once I felt I had exhausted the desire to paint cars I started to be interested instead in the engine parts. I saw the engine as a specimen or artefact which seemed interesting on their own and when ambivalent to their function they created an interesting dynamic. I think I liked to play with this dynamic and place them in a composition where the meaning was perplexing. I imagine they may be a symbol of the technological age and of our future as humans with artificial intelligence. Of living with machines and technology as an essential and unavoidable part of our daily existence. Machines are here to stay and it’s interesting to take a working part of a bigger system and to make it the central object to look at and wonder about
What have you found to be the similarities and differences between mechanical parts and saints?
I like the contrast between the mechanical parts of the engines, the hard steel and heaviness compared to the ethereal, otherworldly, supernatural, miraculous and powerful element of the saint. The engines seem miraculous in some way even on their own, as they defy gravity and fly or float despite their heaviness.