I'm an artist based in the United Kingdom, mostly inspired by the work of Picasso, Jean Dubuffet, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Cy Twombly and Robert Rauschenberg. I’ve really enjoyed working on this sketchbook to contribute to ‘The Sketchbook Project’. When I was younger I was predominantly a figurative painter, very traditional in that sense. It was when I went to art college and then onto university to study Fine Art that my style began to evolve. I discovered the work of William Burroughs and began introducing text into my work, which then evolved into incorporating elements of collage. I worked in sketchbooks a lot but couldn’t seem to replicate the freedom and spontaneity onto the wall pieces. It was a wrestling match throughout my university years. I had all the elements of my work in place, the things that would inspire me going forward, but I couldn’t find a way to communicate them. I compare it to learning an instrument in so far as you can’t express the music in your head if you don’t learn the mechanics first.
I began to find my style by working on my pictures as I would a sketchbook. I built up layers of paint and collage, painted areas out and ripped bits off. I echoed the editing process that would take place in a sketchbook but the ideas were developing and the decisions about composition were all taking place on the pieces themselves.
My interest in text and image was established early in this development, but it was only recently I began combining my own cut ups with my work rather than random text. In my variation of the cut up technique, rather than cutting strips or words randomly, I reassemble existing fragments of a pre-existing text in a way that the resulting poem can be cut out in full, in one piece to function as a single piece of collage material.
The Rauschenburg/William Burroughs collaborative piece entitled ‘American Pewter with Burroughs V’ was a big influence - any attempt at linear reading was pre-empted by the heterogeneous nature of their respective contributions. I find it fascinating to see how my contributions from literary and art perspectives collide. I am collaborating with myself, creating a dialogue between my own works. My texts are not captions, they are as vital as the images. My works are a synergy of poetry and painting, text and image, abstraction and figuration. It’s taken years for me to develop the way I work, and it’s the way I feel most comfortable working.
More and more these ideas and techniques reflect the way we experience the world. We live in non-linear times – we can watch TV, communicate, read, listen to music, shop, in a such a short space of time with minimal effort in a way that was impossible twenty years ago. Amongst this I try ground my work in humanist concerns, the philosophical ideas of "the Absurd"; the conflict between the human tendency to seek inherent value and meaning in life and also the inability to find any. There is humour in my work, but there is often an underlying melancholy. The text and image combine to create a self contained scenario with its own reality, and the viewer is invited to inhabit it. I’m a big fan of haiku, the finding of profound meaning in modest things and the gentle playfulness that helps us view everyday life with fresh eyes. The cut ups often follow a path of taking the wonder of these small things and subverting them into something manic and fierce or poetic and evocative. The characters within the scenarios I create are challenged with weird and impossible predicaments, and the viewer is asked to join them in confronting the strangeness.
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