While it is impossible to define my painting, this is a description of where my direction lies, and how it is evolving.
My paintings take clues from the world around and also from the magic of paint itself.
At the age of twelve I became interested in Chinese ink paintings and studied them from library books. In particular I was interested in the way that simple calligraphic brush strokes could create a landscape or animal, and retain something of the life-force of nature. I have always liked the immediacy of brush strokes and calligraphy and this was affirmed during two visits to China in 2015 and 2016. It was like coming home, and I began to paint with Chinese ink on rice paper using large and small Chinese calligraphic brushes. I explored spontaneity and the sudden emergence of the unexpected, and the way in which a painting can direct itself in an intuitive way, just following the fluidity of emerging forms and colours. .
Also pivotal to my background as an artist was the year I lived in Lagos as a child, and my 14 years in Cyprus (1984 to 1998). I absorbed different colours and gained an artistic interest in patterns and shapes, as seen in my environment. I saw exhibitions of artwork from all over the Middle East.
Recurring motifs are hills and paths, as abstract references to experiences of landscape, and personal journeys through landscape and paint. I love the feeling of being in the land and find different landscapes incredibly inspiring. My visits to China included some incredible mountain vistas, and mountains have always been an important source of inspiration because you feel your scale as a human when in proximity to them! But I am open to the suggestions of the painting and will allow it to follow paths into abstraction if that is what the painting requires.
I want the painting to evolve organically and to present a new place rather than being a copy of something. With this in mind, I explore the life of paint by layering paint, pouring it, using thin washes on top of wet paint, and let the paint inform the direction of the emerging imagery. I mix acrylic, ink, oil paint and pens, and sometimes collage.. My working rhythm involves working on several paintings at the same time, or on a series, because this sets up a dialogue between works. It is always a journey into unknown territory but that is what I love!
In 2015 my dream came true when I visited China as a participant in the 6th Beijing International Art Biennale, in September 2015. A series of ink paintings were inspired by a visit to the Great Wall of China at Badaling. Up until that point I had never explored ink on rice paper and it suited my way of working and felt very natural. .In 2016 I was invited to do a Fellowship ('Schoolhouse at Mutianyu Great Wall') for a month and had the chance to explore my ink paintings more deeply in relation to another section of the Great Wall. I researched the history of the area and the experience had a huge impact on my working practice. Currently I am exploring various ideas gained during my Fellowship.
An upcoming visit to Beijing for the 7th Beijing International Art Biennale will allow me fresh inspiration and the chance to view Chinese art and calligraphy again, and I expect this will help my current work evolve and absorb new elements.