As a painter I am influenced primarily by Rembrandt, David Hockney, Pablo Picasso and Lucien Freud, plus the portrait drawings of Hans Holbein. The art movement that motivates me most is that of the Abstract Expressionists, in particularly Hans Hofmann, Mark Rothko and Jackson Pollock. I find many of the works by these American painters physically challenging and it isn’t prescriptive. The more you immerse yourself in the work, the more it becomes an interactive experience.
I have also taken inspiration from dance, in particularly the work of Canadian contemporary dance group La La La Human Steps plus American dancer and choreographer Merce Cunningham.
A trip to Finland in 2009, followed by subsequent visits, inspired a series of silver birch tree paintings. Combining drawing (conté) and painting (acrylic) techniques, I first exhibited the series as an installation at Candid Arts in London in 2009. I began by making drawings of the birches which reminded me of the ghosts of soldiers, forgotten Finnish infantrymen who would have fought in this landscape in the First and Second World Wars. I thought the birches looked like they were standing on guard, but without branches or leaves, almost as if no longer connected to families at home; alone, but standing together, in death as in life, a birch for every soldier. I proposed that each tree could represent for the Finnish what the poppy symbolises for us – a life lost.