East Yorkshire. At twelve years old I requisitioned a portion of my parents bedroom for a studio. I painted on hardboard, black backgrounds with groups of fearful, naked, huddled figures and token words of ridicule and scorn, like, ‘he’s funny.’
At sixteen I built my own studio from a sectional chicken coup. I became more dug in. The paintings became larger, with my nose pressed into the earth, no humans existed here but grasses and things that crawled with many legs, with titles like, ‘infinity beyond the brambles’.
North Wales saw the same but bigger and more surreal with skulls and bones and hybrids.
With the passing of my father, geometric, abstract shapes appeared and the canvases writhed with colour and tension, and the throngs were back in their horror, titled, ‘people bath’ and ‘loop of remembrance’. They became large free standing structures that vaguely jig-sawed in a circle. By by the time I moved to Liverpool I needed a warehouse to live and work. I stopped exhibiting in galleries after a time in New Mexico exploring Anasazi rock art. Ceremonial image making was upon me. I exhibited in the street, shopping centres, factories and cathedrals. I called it Serious Clowning, confronting a consumer society, a form of ritual healing. St Ives fringe saw these canvasses displayed on the beach like acupuncture needles. Liverpool cathedral displayed them near the altar as I ascended ‘the apostles’ on the west face. Exhibitions were provocative and chaotic.
‘ …and one for the crow ‘ was published, and attempted to skirmish the more sacred, ritual side to movement on rock. It contains sketches from the streets, with titles like, ‘it’s saturday night’ and ‘mudhead clowns’.
With my Mother’s passing, my multimedia interactions started. First in Dinorwic quarry, Llanberis, exploring the loss of life and evisceration of Elidir Fawr, using words, images and sounds. Orchestration of the senses seemed about right. What you cannot see you can hear, what you cannot hear you can read. ‘ Soft Explosion Hard Embrace ‘ was published, a poetic saga with its resident sonic soundscape of quarry noise. It contained sketches from my time in Nant Peris, with titles like, ‘and the jaws forever wide’ and ‘the great grey fox in the sky’.
I moved to the French Pyrenees and parked up the Mercedes truck in the hills. I repainted the jigsaws. The paintings are still there eighteen years later, decomposing, flaking off their frames like bark. Trees have grown through the engine. Other creatures have found a home. I am not a good keeper of my work. ‘ Colonists Out ‘, the search for the meaning of home was published. I concluded that I am only at home when working. The rest is make-believe.
The works you see here materialise from sounds I recorded from the land. Montsegur, Bugarach and the persecution of the Cathari…Perillos and shared dreams…the Retirada paths of betrayal and espionage of the Spanish Civil War encircling my studio. These site-specific recordings from places of dark, human activity, replace my eyes and re-edits how I see the world. Intent is my palette. The shapes materialise from a dimly-lit studio where they emerge from the sounds and dreams that brought them. I work in a way that is loosely termed surrealist-automatism. I like to think there is a revelation taking place, and perhaps for some esoteric reason I am protecting the light. I cannot say. As my fingers smudge and push the blue powder of prussian, cobalt, cerulean, ultramarine, the blues of spirit and belonging and loss onto cartridge, I am reminded that only the faraway distance can really hold them. And there they vanish to inform this mystery. All is a delusion. Life is experiential. Keep moving with the blue in sight, perhaps it leads to knowledge of the Cosmos, the heart, or a myth-centric wonder – to emerge upon the ‘self’ and source… well, anyone’s guess is Gnosis?
With these themes in mind, I collected my essays for a volume called, ‘ Hero Gone Bent ‘, words, images and sounds, containing some of the works you see here, with titles like, ‘cognition is grounded, our minds a product of the ecosystem’.