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Thunder Rider II Original

Thunder Rider II
oil on panel
75 x 75cm

Most of my work is inspired by nature. This piece was loosely inspired by the landscapes of Charnwood Forest in Leicestershire and the Peak District of Derbyshire, not a specific place, more the mood of the light, the woodlands, hills and ancient rocks. I’m interested in the way memory shapes an idea of a landscape. Our response to a place is filtered through whatever we are thinking about at the time we saw it. Each time we think back on that place further layers of our thoughts are added creating a personal mythology that may end up looking quite different to a photograph of that place. Therefore my work is probably more about my internal thoughts than an external view. I think of my paintings as dreamscapes. As such the landscape is simply a starting point for the work and the finished paintings are hopefully universal.

This is part of a series called ‘Unreliable memories’ dealing with the idea that the way we view a landscape is filtered through whatever we’re thinking at the time. Thinking back later about the same landscape it may have taken on additional meaning based on what else was happening in our lives at the time. This layering of memories and thoughts becomes our personal mythology. So the idea of the series is to paint the memory of places and how I felt about them then and how they have merged with other thoughts and ideas to form how I feel about those moments in time now rather than to paint a representational image.

This work began as a tribute to Nik Turner, co-founder of the group Hawkwind, who died in 2022. This was in my thoughts whilst making ink studies in the Peak District during frosty weather. The landscapes were often bathed in brilliant, sometimes golden, light. During the following weeks working on the painting in the studio I lost a close family member and the work became more about the way we process loss and memories, the glorious light of the landscapes blurring with ideas of nature’s cycle of constant regeneration. I wanted to make a hopeful painting, filled with light and movement and a sense of spirituality.

Oil paint is applied in many thin glazes over a wooden panel. These glazes of oil paint create a translucent surface revealing subtle colour variations with prolonged viewing. There are also asemic, calligraphic-like marks representing the movement of insects. Layers of misty effects are applied over darker areas. There are areas of sanding, scraping revealing texture and colour underneath. There are also areas of paint blown delicately to make organic, semi-transparent motifs.

My main historical references are Turner and the other Sublime/Romantic artists, Monet, Bosch, the Abstract Expressionists and Japanese and Chinese landscape art. My contemporary influences are Chu Te Chun, Zao Wou-Ki, Cruz Jimenez, Darren Waterston, Ella Baudinet and Lissa Bockrath. 

I hope the viewer finds a sense of both peace and movement and can feel something of the precious, fragile nature of our existence and environment.
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