This latest series of paintings continue my explorations of the ways of paint and the local Somerset landscape, focusing on the beautiful wooded valley of Vallis Vale, near Frome. It is a place that I never tire of, constantly surprising me with undiscovered secret paths, which can lead under a fence into a hay field, or end at a precarious makeshift camp perched on the cliff edge of an abandoned quarry looking out above the tree canopy. It is a place that has layers of industrial, and geological heritage that have been reclaimed by nature. Steep wooded valley sides are crisscrossed by a myriad of tracks made by exploring kids and wild animals. Over time, the twisting paths of two streams, and the hands of forgotten quarrymen have shaped the vale into a series scooped out interconnected spaces that hold there own unique microcosms.
I am fascinated by the way that this unique landscape describes the space around us, providing pockets of distance that stretch away from the random jumble of trees, undergrowth, rocks and water. It is an environment that is spot lit by the sun, which picks out, in glorious riveting detail, the architectural splendour of a messy patch of weeds that the day before I might have walked straight past. It’s a place constantly changing, but at several different speeds, as the spin of the earth creates circles within circles. From minute to minute, as clouds filter the light and the sun moves across the sky. From day to day, as different weather systems create different atmospheres, and over weeks as the slower turn of the seasons orchestrate the exuberant plant life.
I have tried to capture some of this variety though this series of paintings but feel I am still only scratching the surface. Different scenes evoke different reactions, sometimes I’m happy to represent it close to how I see it but on other days I want to push the paint around further, experiment with colour and perception to try to create an image that can break the boundaries of a specific moment in time. I don’t know if I always succeed, but to strive for something that’s just out of sight is all a part of the journey. Often a painting will take a turn in an unplanned direction, mistakes can lead to a different path taken, ending up at an interesting new place. Messing around with colour is a constant source delight for me and I have enjoyed breaking some of the rules in a couple of these paintings by getting out every colour in the box. I have tried to transmit some of the energy and vibration of life though the marks I make, the gradual progression of carefully placed marks are punctuated by a calligraphy of explosive scribbles. In the end, what motivates me most of all, is a simple desire to recreate the sense of wonder that I feel about this beautiful, transient, world around us.