Studio Diaries
New Year, 2024

A reflective glance back at the work made at the beginning of 2024.

How do we disappear from a moment which demands us to be present?

Understanding the dramatic use of phantasmagoria has helped me further articulate my preoccupations within painting. There is always a dialogue with a romanticised sense of the mystic, dream-like or spiritual imageries haunting my visual vocabulary. It often feels like I am pulling together images and emotion that relate to waking life, but I acknowledge the constantly changing, unkown qualities of what I am trying to express, and that this imbues a significant sense of fantasy. It is a device in which I can embrace my intensely felt inner world, channeling this into arenas that draw together animals and artefacts relating to the real world, yet tinged with make-believe. I celebrate the experience of an awakening, an extended moment caught between fact and fiction; an interruption in the fabric of time elicited by encounters with certain subjects. These muses are not unaffected by spectors that haunt our time, and these histories and mythologies often blur truth and fable. 

It was reading Celia Paul’s ‘Self-Portrait’ that revealed to me revelations that connected with my own relationship with painting. Our personal fear and dramas may stem from very different circumstances, yet these emotions were the driving force of mantras she applied to her art making such as: “I don’t care so much what the outcome of the painting is so long as I finish it.” Between her ambitions and desperation, this painting practice served as an embodiment of the pychological state she possesed at the time, fueled by the frantic, painful relationship that consumed her world during this period. As her memoir unfolds, allied with images she created, I see this early force of hardship, solitude, and sacrifice lead to something like grace. I guess time allows us to be more psychologically taut - in reflection we can develop a greater apprehension of experiences of intensity. This development from her youthful aggression is seen in her relationship with her muses becoming more symbiotic and sitters in paintings aquire a sense of pride and peace. The completive and spiritual air of ‘My Sisters in Mourning’ is an ode to the ultimate dissipation of Frued’s hold over her, not to discount being able to escape unscarred, this piece culminates her honing of meditative portraits. The pale shifts recalling nun’s habits, made specifically for the sitters, ritualised both the painting and its creation. 

Expressing interiorty of subjects and places given a retrospective mindset allows the stimuli to be depicted emotively, yet pared down. These images may arrive from depths of feeling, yet the time accrued between the events and painting being made allows for.a distance, protecting what lies on the canvas from becoming overly charged. The result becomes mysterious in its newfound composure. The feeling is still there but more remote and this interspace allows the dust to settle, indicating a more gathered account of the past happenings.

Often these days I do not feel as free. However, deeper readings of even the mundane experiences of tracking down swans on the river console me, as I realise nothing is truly liberated. These creatures are permitted to stay within the parks in which they breed, and their survival relies on the body of water they are birthed by. The process of translating emotions into visual pieces allows me to reflect on images during the creation of the painting. Often I realise unreal expectations and social conditioning that may not be working for me any longer.

A beautiful sense of empowerment can be reflected in materiality that has textures which hold many states. The fluid light and air which fills ‘Self Portrait in a Narrow Mirror’ gives Celia’s painting a deep melancholy. In this piece, there are light washes which surround and infuse with the standing portrait and this experession of paint work addresses memory, endings, grief, and natures ruthlessness and renewal. Nothing is static, and often painting images that evidence the potential for growth, rebirth and change through natural muses and cosmic transformations are a reminder that it is impossible to get trapped in an eternally unchangeable space. The subtly of movement suggested within fluid paint work articulates this sense of transition, showing me how even my own paintings are invested with compelling avenues of hope.