Category Archives: Diary

KPMG Exhibition at Canary Wharf

In the summer, I was asked to submit for the above exhibition for Alumni, Staff and Students of the Academy. It is always rewarding to learn when your work attracts some attention, and an impressionistic picture of a trout seems to have found favour with a purchaser. Here is a similar picture I have done recently. I am looking to describe an impression in brilliant sunshine.

Artists statement

I have spent absolutely ages trying to come up with a comprehensive description of what I do as an artist, and why.

Here is the latest effort, for the beginning of my final year’s work:-

I am a figurative artist with a deep interest in why depictive art is an important part of being human, and the way this relates to abstraction. On a practical level, my art seeks to portray how I feel about the world around me, which is usually quite optimistic. I enjoy the natural world, and the people in it, which is why animals, birds and humans in the landscape feature in most of my subject matter.

Representation, for me, goes far deeper than merely creating likeness’. There is an underlying abstract context to all of my work which is sometimes very dominant, and other times is much less apparent, but is the source of most of the struggle. Expression, therefore is a matter of composition, colour harmony, surface quality and a balance between intense precision and much freer elements. Always, I am reaching for something that is deeper, in the quest to create memorable images that connect with the observer.

Otters on the river

Just to make the point that I haven’t sold out totally to portraiture (at least, conventional portraiture) I return to animals and birds for a moment. This is a portrait of an otter, as its character is an essential part of what I wish to convey. Interestingly, the biggest challenge was to paint it into the environment on the river Tyne in which it was observed. The River Tyne is much more than shipyards at its mouth. It is a beautiful river of ther purest quality, known as the best Salmon river in England by some. Lots of it is in deep woody gorges with thick vegetation. The water is dark and peaty.  Glimpses of Otters are usually fleeting, as they are very wary.

The abstract design of this picture is, for me, the most important part of it, though I am satisfied that the otter (caught out, on a rock) is fairly convincing.

Wolfendale Prize

I have been interested in the human urge to depict the world around us at least since a visit to Lascaux caves in France in 1976. This huge instalation, made around 50,000 years ago, demonstrates (to me) an urge that Prof Dennis Dutton (a former Prof. Aesthetics from new Zealand)  described very eloquently as an instinct with Pliestocene origins. From it he has traced a quite plausable evolutionary development to the present day.

I began exploring the ideas around this because I find the idea of irregularities in rock walls as seen in firelight leading to recognition of a the clues found in nature that are used by hunter gatherers to0 detect quarry species and danger very convincing. Much of this was reinforced by  time spent in Tsavo National Park with a Masai bush guide.

This is a piece of work I did following through the exploration, for which I became the joint 2012 winner of the Sir Arnold Wolfendale Prize for Art in Science and Nature.  It is created like a bas relief that can be fitted flush with a wall and which evokes the idea of a cave wall.

On nature based figurative art

Why is nature based art almost entirely excluded from the art establishment?

Curiously, this is not simply a revolt against depictive art as the Portrait Painting genre amply demonstrates.

Attached is an essay I wrote about one of its leading modern exponents for the Art Academy course:-

John Busby and 20th Century Nature Based Art