Artist’s Statement

As a self-taught artist working in both painting and sculpture, in several mediums, I am always looking for connections between my two and three dimensional work. The same themes, primarily that of humanity expressed through the face, run through my drawing, watercolors, sculptural heads, and dolls. I am interested in the element of mystery and exoticism inherent in Western perceptions of other cultures, but in trying to understand how we perceive tribal people I want to convey something of their different outlook on the planet. Earth can be viewed as our mother, our home both physically and spiritually, in contrast to the Western view of earth as an economic resource to be squandered, in the relentless drive for profit and (dubious) progress. So I am harking back to a sort of innocence, a before – the – fall idea of our connectedness to the land, a joint responsibility to society and to the earth, to a matriarchal sense of who we could be as a species. Whether in a portrait-type depiction of a Zulu tribes woman, a West Indian market-lady, an imaginary Arawak in the vanished PreColumbian rain-forest of the Caribbean, I hope the peace but also the vigour of traditional life reflects from the eyes of my paintings. I have been fortunate enough to spend large parts of my life in fairly remote places, and to meet many interesting people, who while not rejecting the modern world outright, see the importance of changing our lives to ensure our survival, not only in terms of the basics of existence, but as beings in a holistic sense.

My watercolors are often heavily shadowed, I find the play of light on the features communicates the emotional quality I want, and I prefer to depict each person alone or in groups of at most three, so as not to detract from this. The challenge of a many-layered painting in watercolor, as opposed to oils or acrylics, interests me as a ‘performance art’ attempt to impart the passion behind the work, since watercolor is much less correctable than other mediums. The backgrounds of my paintings are intended to convey an impression only, and often include symbolic references, such as petroglyphs, flowers, or artifacts with a specific cultural context, in the same way that the Pre-Raphaelites revived the medieval ‘language of flowers’. My interest in Mythological/Cultural archetypes, from faeries to zemis, also reflects the esoteric life of the cultures that intrigue me.

I also paint birds and animals, in a semi-realist style, which becomes more light-hearted and humorous in some of my ceramics – especially the pelicans, iguanas and turtles, whose quirky anthropomorphism appeals to me. This a response to the Tropical environment, as when in England I painted seals, because they too have ‘faces’ that seem to speak to us of a deeper reality than our modern world, and form part of many local legends.

New challenges in my sculpture include enlarging my raku work, but not beyond the point of practical removal of objects from the kiln at 1800º F, using only a pair of iron tongs! This necessitates the cutting up of larger sculptures into sections, and their re-assembly after firing. I have also begun to make high-fired stoneware sculpture suitable for the garden.