What is your art practice and what themes are you exploring and why?
I’m interested in art that challenges and engages the viewer, suggesting a different way of seeing the world. To my mind, it should challenge our attitudes and raise our awareness. Something aesthetically pleasing or dramatic can draw you in and start a conversation – a springboard for thought or discussion.
My recent paintings feature big, bold brush strokes in black, which become the backbone of the work. I use oil, acrylic, acrylic ink and resin, but I don’t like to limit myself. Taking risks and challenging processes are some of the things that drive me – experimenting with different materials are essential to my practice.
I have recently reclaimed the term ‘Artivism’ as my work is very often concerned in raising awareness about social, political and environmental issues. I am an ambassador for causes I feel strongly about and strive to increase people’s awareness and perceptions through my art.
Earlier in 2019 I donated a painting titled ‘Uprooted’ to a charity art auction in Manchester ‘Bid and Rebuild’. The auction, to raise money for two charities in support of refugees rebuilding their lives in the UK. ‘Uprooted’ started life as a Hexaptych in 2017, an artwork consisting of six panels, until I decided to separate the panels and frame them individually. It is important to me that my work can resonate with such causes and is an example of how you can take a simple idea about the root system of an oak tree and have a conversation about what roots mean to people and their lives.
The themes in my work are constantly changing but the approach to my inquiries stay constant: to look at an important topic and take it on a journey.
Drawing has always been an important discipline in my practice. I started life as an art student who specialised in life drawing and portraiture, but my tutors were always encouraging us to take things further and it took me a while to figure all this out.
In my latest paintings (2019) I am taking all I have learned and combining my life drawings with the abstract works to create a bigger, bolder message.
Which artists and movements historically have influenced you?
Julian Schnabel the American painter and filmmaker, who came to prominence in the 80s is someone I have followed with interest over the years. He frequently experiments with new materials and painting techniques, and embraces various modes simultaneously to avoid being limited by a signature style. I aspire to the same drivers, which resonate with my own practice.
The Abstract Expressionists as a movement, is hugely inspirational, in particularly, Hans Hofmann, mainly because of his use of colour and composition and the shear size of his works. At first impression the works are abstract, yes, but the physicality of the pieces make you feel you could step right into one of these landscapes. They are very powerful. Hofmann held a strong conviction about the spiritual and social value of art.
Nicolas de Staël is also a favourite of mine. He died at the young age of 41, his painting career spanning only 15 years (from 1941). However, he managed to produce more than a thousand paintings during that time. I like his work for a similar reason – abstract on the surface, but if you squint your eyes, you could almost step into one of these hazy landscapes. Something at first glance which is striking, but pulls you in to consider a different world on closer inspection.
I graduated from Leeds Polytechnic in 1988. One of the most influential lecturers at Leeds, to my mind, was painter and sculptor, George Hainsworth. He taught me that you needed courage as an artist to break away from the mould. There always needs to be an element of fear in making work. I have never stopped experimenting with different mediums and practices. These are the drivers in my work.