No Shelter: Mother without Child

No Shelter: Mother without Child

Found object, hand-cut canvas

This work was made in collaboration with Lavanja Thavabalasingam for the Correspondence exhibition held alongside and in response to the Moore in Focus: A Friendship in Letters exhibition at the Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts in 2014.

Henry Moore made a number of drawings of people sheltering in the Underground during the Blitz and his more well-known sculptures depict a mother and child. He also holidayed at Happisburgh where he discovered stones with holes in them on the beach, which led to his sculptural works taking the forms that are synonymous with his work.

No Shelter: Mother without Child was made using similar stones from Happisburgh. This work depicts the aftermath of an airstrike; there is no shelter and the child is missing. The hand-cut canvas depicts a cloud of smoke from an airstrike in the form of Jasmine flowers. Damascus in Syria is known as the City of Jasmine.

I did hope the work would be confined to history and not suddenly become immediately relevant today.


Because I Do Not Hope To…

A painted illustration inspired by part one of T.S. Eliot’s poem Ash Wednesday (1930). The poem concerns Eliot’s struggle with converting to Anglicanism.

Eliot’s words easily conjure vivid imagery in the mind of the reader; akin to being a youngster reading Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings and being enthralled by Fog on the Barrow-downs.

When this painting was still confined by sketches in pen, it seemed to be an inspired choice using readily available source material. The poem is in six parts. So six paintings, each referring to its constituent part, felt like a great idea. Knowing Ash Wednesday (February 18th 2015) was five to six weeks away gave a degree of urgency to the work.

For the most part this painting has been thoroughly enjoyable to compose (I’ve retained images documenting the painting’s progression), especially during some of the most glorious winter skies over Norfolk. This is something I’ve never really explored before; a direct observation of something that, may, directly inform the work. Some of my other work is born of observation, however those observations will have been constructed over a period of time and consequently are indirect; they are musings.

During the process of painting, I visited the REALITY exhibition at the Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts.

Curated by artist Chris Stevens, REALITY explores contemporary British painting featuring works by Graham Crowley, Ken Currie, David Hockney, Paula Rego, Jenny Saville, and Caroline Walker, amongst others.

The exhibition helped peel away a layer of ego.

Graham Crowley, a former Professor of Painting at The Royal College of Art (1998 – 2006), gave a talk to the Norwich Twenty Group of artists. This talk helped peel away another layer of ego.

These two layers revealed the underlying importance of flesh and substance; illustration or painting.

If it is painting one wish to explore, then painting must be considered as the primary source. If it is a painting using secondary source material as primary, then an illustration is the likely outcome.

Manet thanks…aw 1000 pix

Walking along with Henry Moore….


Ever since I saw a photograph, taken in 1931, of Henry Moore, Irina Moore, Barbara Hepworth, Ben Nicholson, Ivon Hitchens, and Mary Jenkins holidaying together at Happisburgh, I’ve felt the need to go there.

Retracing anyone’s footsteps will surely lead to something. The author, Richard Holmes retraced the steps of Robert Louis Stevenson through the Cevennes; finding out as much about himself as he did Stevenson.

The artist Hamish Fulton spends much of his time what most of us do without thinking: walking. Fulton, however, makes this art.

Whatever an artist or author decides to do with, and in, these moments of tranquillity often provides something for someone.

By going to Happisburgh and walking along the same stretch of coast as Moore did, in some way, I occupied the space he did. Of course it’s more difficult to establish a precise location; even using photographs will prove difficult because of the coastal erosion continuously affecting the Happisburgh coast.

When I stand in front of a painting by Bacon, and see the evidence of the brushstrokes, I, again in some way, occupy the space he did.

Walking along the stony beach looking at flints of all sizes, some half-buried in the sand, I wondered about the Happisburgh Hand Axe; a Pre-Historic flint tool dated 700,000 years old.

I walked in the soggy sand and felt my sandals scloop further down with each step. I wondered about the hominid footprints found here and dated to 800,000 years ago.

I kept looking along the beach…”the occasional flash of something that catches one’s eye…my god, look at how these cliffs seem to have been torn into by claws…”

I found what I was looking for.

I didn’t realise it at the time, of course.

Moore In Focus: A Friendship in Letters

Moore In Focus: A Friendship in Letters

During the early 1930s a group of people including the artists Henry Moore, Barbara Hepworth, John Skeaping, Ivon Hitchens, and Ben Nicholson holidayed together at the Norfolk beach of Happisburgh. This beach is well known for the effects of coastal erosion, and also for being the site of discovery of the 700,000 year old Happisburgh Hand-axe, and the recently discovered 850,000 year old hominine footprints in the sediment of the coastal floor.

Moore, and Hepworth, was particularly interested in the iron-stones found along this stretch of coast and the two sculptors used them to inform their work which became some of their most recognisable sculptures today. In addition to this they discovered many hag-stones (stones with a naturally occurring hole in them), which were, and continue to be, used in folklore as protection against witches, and malevolent spirits. The hag-stones influence can be seen in Moore’s, and Hepworth’s, works from the mid-1930s onwards.

To begin my correspondence with Henry Moore, I’m heading to the Norfolk coast to find stones that will inform a new artwork. This artwork will also be a dialogue between me and another artist, Lavanja Thavabalasingam. At this stage it is impossible to know how our conversation will develop and how it will end. It may be that my conversation involves questions I’ve yet to ask, or, indeed, find any suitable answers for.

One of the links to Moore, I already have within my art practice, is the use of found objects. By taking a stroll along one of the most beautiful coastal areas in England, I may find just what I’m looking for.