On those many occasions when I’m asked what sort of artist I am, I usually say ‘Landscape Artist’. Then I’m met with a scrunched face and dull reaction from the person asking the question, followed by ‘oh really’ – then they walk away…..
Or I say ‘I’m a Painter’, followed by ‘oh could you come round and give me a quote for my living room?’ – Not that sort of painter………
Ideas and thoughts of pretty nice country lanes, a rolling hill, or textured green field deep within the English countryside spring to mind. Oh how wrong and far from reality they always are!
My artistic career started in my late teens with various diplomas and courses at college, to kick start my formal training. I took my BA in fine art, exhibiting with various friends and galleries across London - trying so desperately to break into the diverse melting pot which is the London art scene. My first review came at 21 and then it all went quiet! What do you do? The money has gone? No one is interested in buying from you anymore? You have graduated and have nowhere to go everyday! The thought of retail work is enough to tip you over the edge, and going back behind a bar will lead to the party life again – no way. You consider giving up and getting a ‘normal job’, and being a ‘normal person’, but a true artist cant. Art and creativity is a drug inbuilt within the mechanics of your body and soul. Surround yourself with likeminded individuals, meet other artists, walk into galleries and ask questions, just keep on going!
(Untitled, Wire, Digital Print, 2016)
So I trained to be a teacher, an art teacher and that was my job for 5 years. It brought the money in and paid for paints and materials – and allowed me to fuel my passion for travel. Travel is major part of my creative life, I need to see, seeing is the key to my practice, the more I see the more I experience – the more I create and challenge myself. I still maintained a studio based practice as a painter grabbing an hour every night and finding spare time aside from marking books, and doing all those teacher things you do. Being a teacher was a fantastic life changing experience, however draining and overworked I was, it gave me the scope and skills to micro manage my life, to decide what I truly wanted to do. To become a professional full time artist!
(The Thames at Tilbury, Digital Print, 2016)
Whilst teaching I studied for my MA in Art History, looking back now I must have been totally insane! 12 essay’s a year over 2 years plus a hefty dissertation, and working full time- what was I thinking? You know what; it was worth the stress and torment. I needed to be informed, I needed to perfect my skills at understanding the world I dreamed of being a strong fixture within- to know about what came before and what was being created now. Did it help my practice? Yes it did, it challenged me to think about the creative processes we all employ within our art, and made me realise there is no right or wrong way to be an artist. Ignore those who tell you it cannot be done, or it just doesn’t look right. Art is natural, it’s organic and it has to flow like the Thames- weaving its way around anything and everything.
Growing up within the urban jungle of London – Bethnal Green to be more precise, East End born and raised has had a huge impact upon my creative life. Surrounded by an ever changing skyline, the old architectural styles of Hawksmoor and Wren standing alongside the new dominant glass structures of the city challenged me to think – and I still can’t stop, I won’t stop. I knew my love for the city would endure till old age, but there was a tiny little nagging voice in the back of my mind which wanted to break free of the concrete and smoke. So at the age of 28 my creative pathway shifted towards a different muse – ‘The Landscape’. Bye bye teaching, hello full time artist! I began to look further afield for inspiration.
2016 was a turning point where my work sped ahead in a very different route than previous years. Digital printmaking was my new medium of choice. Using my camera I photograph whatever I find and uncover, which is ascetically pleasing to my own ascetic - what I find interesting, what I enjoy looking at. Usually decay, broken, industrial, overgrown things and places. We all have the power to see beauty where the ugly roams freely. Back to the studio I can spend hours on Photoshop manipulating and changing the images into a form which I’m happy with. The exploration of visual language and two dimensional imagery has been an ever growing part of my practice. How can a photograph be reborn into a pattern, a structure, a thing unseen before?
(Moss, Digital Print, 2016)
Thinking, pondering, having a Jack Daniels and day dreaming is my creative process. Some artists agonise over sketchbooks, and drawings for days on end. I guess I’m a deep thinker and a doer. If it’s in my head it needs to come out, and be turned into something, or some sort of art. There is always a plan or a planning process, not all of us are the same and my process works for me – even if it’s outside the confines of the norm and the status quo of the art world. As artists we have no time to spare or waste, our lives are consumed by internal mental debates over what our hands can form and produce, on a computer or in a studio, whatever wherever we just have to make, make, make.
(Tiles, Digital Print, 2016)
So whilst you were reading this short narrative on my artistic life to date, take a look at the images within the text. These are my landscapes, the unsung heroes of decay and form which I have created. These images form part of my Dungeness Series, an exploration into the abandoned desolate hamlet on the Kent coast - a usual gathering spot for artists and creatives types fleeing London for inspiration.
What next? Well my art of course, new projects, new ideas, more travel. Never give up on your craft, whether you are a photographer, a designer, a painter, or sculptor keep going until the fire inside dies out, which coincidently it won’t!