I heard my first cuckoo of the year, yesterday, out in the woods near my home. I didn't actually see it, but it was such a joy to hear that distinctive call — and I really feel it's a sign that spring has begun :)
My blog today features a couple of pictures I have been working on, both of Mile End underground station. This is such an interesting station; it's so rich in colour and bold in its geometric forms and lines.
The many tiled pillars along the two double platforms at this station break up the scene into a series of images as you walk along. It feels like walking through a living film spool or negative, and reminded me of some of Tacita Dean's work. It was this sense of framing that I wanted to portray in the wood engraving, recording the narrative taking place between a pair of pillars on different platforms.
For the oil painting, I've turned to a diagonal view of one of these pillars, which reveals a wonderful distortion of a stationary train held at a platform, captured by one of the Tube's convex mirrors. I have shown both the starting point of this picture and also a 'work in progress' shot.
Two of my wood engravings, View Subterranea 8: Bethnal Green and View Subterranea 9: Holborn, are currently on show at the Royal West of England Academy's 165th Annual Open Exhibition. I am always honoured to have my work selected for this show as I love this historic and prestigious venue in Bristol.
View Subterranea 8 is also currently on show in the Awagami International Mini Print Exhibition, in Tokushima, Japan. I was chuffed that it received an 'honourable' mention - particularly as I was up against a lot of traditional Japanese printmakers.
All details can be found on the events page.
It is always a difficult decision to make, but it's also a relief when the last brush stroke on a painting has been made.
Today was one of those days. I have worked for some time on a couple of oil paintings: one of Waterloo tube station, and the other Temple. In the course of creating both of these paintings I have been working on trying to reflect the beauty of the stations, whilst stripping back on any unnecessary detail.
As much as the familiar details of trains and roundels, I was equally captivated by the surfaces in these images. I loved working on these simultaneously, enjoying the contrast between Waterloo's shiny, polished, marble-like platform and Temple's rather rougher floor - looking a little like an eroded river bed.
Walking out the other day into the back garden I felt the first warm rays of spring sunshine. In the garden, orange, red and violet crocuses with deep sap-green leaves were in full bloom, and a beautiful Red Admiral butterfly - which must have just woken from its hibernating slumber - flew past me and alighted on the white rear wall for a few minutes. I was struck by the sheer beauty of this scene, and I have tried to capture the essence of its memory in this oil painting I have called the 'First Pulse of Spring'.
Last year I launched a new series of paintings at Reading Contemporary Art Fair. The title of this series is 'Mind the Gap', and the first of these was on display for a little less than an hour before it was snapped up and on its way to a new home!
As even the most cursory glance at my gallery will reveal, I get a great deal of artistic inspiration from the London Underground. There's just something about the architecture, style and atmosphere of this labyrinth of subterranean tunnels. I am constantly finding new and unusual perspectives here, offering unexpected delights.
An important part of what fascinates my about the Tube is the limitless potential to take a fresh look at common objects and scenes, finding new meanings. As a former London commuter myself, I know that these underground scenes can become so familiar as to be almost invisible. How many regular travellers, for example, really take note each time they step over one of the Underground's most iconic and ubiquitous warnings: to Mind the Gap?
In this series of works, I elevate these painted exhortations to be the focus of each piece. The words seem to have a magical ability - even within a single scene - to veer from deep philosophical meaning to mere abstract shapes, and back again.
Shorn of much of their context, these works can blur the distinction between realism and abstraction, and in so doing prompt new interpretations of these three simple words: Mind The Gap.
I was so looking forward to watching from my attic studio the rising of the ‘Supermoon’ tonight but like yesterday the weather is not looking good. It's the largest it has been for 68 years... but it is raining and cloudy :(
On Monday night I was able to snatch several quick sketches as the beautiful full moon broke free from the bluey-black clouds. I have attached several of these sketches.
As it looks like I'll have no moon for tonight, I have drawn an image in watercolours for a small, lunar-inspired wood engraving. I hope to be able to put this through the press later today.
I was excited to find out this Friday that my wood engraving 'Angles of Incidence' has been selected for this years RWA Annual Exhibition. I love exhibiting at the RWA
www.rwa.org.uk which is in Bristol. It is a beautiful gallery in lovely part of the city.
I was really excited to have one of my wood engravings selected to be one of 18 works to be part of an exhibition in support of the Friends of the Earth - Great British Bee Count starting on 19 May 2016.
The selection of works was made by Jo Wood; TV presenter, interior designer and the new FOE ambassador.
Friends of the Earth in partnership with Artfinder (www.artfinder.com) and My Chelsea hotel (http://myhotels.com/chelsea) will be displaying this exhibition at the My Chelsea Hotel - the show will start on the 26 May and run till the end of June. Part of all sales will be donated to the Save our Bees campaign. For all details please visit my events page.