Drawing is a fundamental part of my practice. I work into sketchbooks daily. In recent years my work has focussed on large charcoal drawings specific to certain locations and tends to be focussed on temporally longer studies in these locations. These began with a year-long study of three trees on the edge of Dartmoor, producing an A1 sized charcoal drawing per week through that year. It became a record of temporal and contextual changes in that group through that year. I often include contextual studies to set the trees in their local environment.
More recent projects have been either shorter in time duration or less concentrated in the delivery of work. In almost all the projects I have incorporated material found in and around the location or charcoal made from the subject trees. I find that the natural variation achieved when hand-making charcoal gives a variety and a quality of mark I cannot achieve with bought charcoal, though I am not per se averse to wholesale manufactured charcoal. With hand-made, it may be the ‘lack’ of a mark or the slight colour that helps to push a drawing in the direction I want. I am also interested in the translation of marks and what happens when scale is changed. This has led to a number of very large charcoal drawings, the largest being 5.75m x 1.50m, which are nigh impossible to mount and very difficult to show, but which demonstrate how the marks themselves and the perception of the marks can change with scale, how it is the viewer indeed that makes the picture whole .
I tend to multi-layer my work, building up a surface through various charcoals, all of which have different qualities, using the white of the paper as well as white charcoal, pastel or Conté. It is important to me to view the work right up close observing the marks and their interactions, as well as at a distance to view the subject. At close viewing the marks themselves become abstract and non-specific, only self- and intra-related. Then as one moves out you begin see the context of the marks which may be even derived randomly, fall into a progressive whole and become inter-related.
I see my work as reflection of Place first and foremost - whether that place is offshore on an oil rig, standing with a rock reflecting on landscape or simply the broken planes and fragments of paving stones you might see when out in the city. The means of investigation have become more varied and the paintings and drawings become the external manifestations of internal and external journeys. Place and Time become linking factors and the struggle is to make people feel the essence and the beauty of place and the movement through time To see the beauty in the superficially ugly; to realise the depth in an industrial scene; to recognise the growth in decomposition or degradation or corrosion
I am not averse to working from photographs. This has been a tool of artists since the birth of photography, however what is arrived at in the drawing, even when working from photographs, is most certainly not a drawing of a photograph. The photograph is purely as an aide memoire. Each viewer brings his or her own perceptions to the work – a personal phenomenology outside the phenomenology of the artist.