History is probably one of the most persistent motifs in my studio practice. I am interested in numerous aspects of history, from the vernacular of British history (what it means to be British, which is a recurring dialogue), through to ancient civilization and always accompanied by art history, of which I think I have a deep love for and respect. Working at the National Gallery, since graduating, has helped me clarify my position to certain things in art and also for me to look for things that I sometimes feel are not looked for. I feel that history provides that richness of reaching into a subject and the process of learning is something that is vital for me to succeed in a piece, either physically manifest in a painting- or on a scrap of paper with notes on it.
One of the areas that I am trying to resolve with my work is to work bigger, off the stretcher and in an installational way, accompanied by my notes and photo’s- or to start using the research in more artistic ways. At present I am solely pre-occupied with archaeology (I wrote my thesis on Mark Dion, which maybe explains the need to be a bit more respectful towards research as art) and ancient archaeological sites in Scotland and Iraq.
I won’t deny that there is a frivolity in my work that I try hard to maintain and fear for its loss. I don’t think of it as a fear of growing up, or of trying to stay in a childlike regressive state to make my work and although I feel there is a semi- regressive escapism I think it is related to something possibly a bit more patriarchal and old fashioned in its values. I think I have an old man’s interests, which is maybe why it is juxtaposed with a childlike approach- as a balance or a contrast. I paint relatively quickly to capture the spirit of those dead people, who had the same interests, or whom I admire and to re-animate them and talk to them.
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