I grew up in Kent, England. I became obsessed with making art when I was a teenager. I think it comes from being in my own head and observing everything going on around me all the time. Expressing this visually became an important part of my daily life when I was young. I think it also is in my blood, as my family for generations has been creative.
The act of painting has definitely helped me learn how to communicate - initially by expressing myself emotionally but now also through the use of text in my work. There's something about expressing myself visually that does help me let go. I think constantly while I paint, but somehow when I start moving colour across the canvas, anxious thoughts in my head become resolved. At the same time, I also use text or poetry in my work, almost as a way in to start difficult conversations, which, in itself, gets me out of my head.
I've always kept journals of writing, observations, internal monologues, or poetry. The journal was always a place that I could be completely honest about how I was feeling or what was going on around me. Communicating through writing has always made sense to me and I've always known it was important to my practice, but I also never knew what to do with the writing I did.
For the last couple of years, I've been looking back at some of the journals I've written over the last 10 years and certain sentences stood out to me. So, I began collating collections of the 'good writing'. I think now I am better at editing and knowing what to keep and what to throw away.
First, I began writing the saved sentences on loose bits of paper. Some days I'd paint words directly onto the canvas, then one day this turned into painting words onto scraps of canvas strewn over the studio floor. Naturally, these scraps ended up being stuck onto paintings, almost likes notes or afterthoughts. The words have been through 3-4 rounds of editing. I love to use them as gestures or marks as well. I don't want the text to completely or entirely take over the painting, which is why it's often stuck in corners or the edges of the canvas. I just want it to be there as a train of thought, or something tangible to hold onto if you need a bit of guidance or reflection.
I'm really interested in playing around with the value of things. For example, placing value on things that are typically 'throwaway'. I like to do this with sentences. I think often the everyday or domestic can be quite mundane, but I find poetical moments hidden in everyday experiences. There's also some writing that at the time seemed passing or a casual observation, but upon reading back years later, has really struck something in me. I think 'good writing' evokes an emotion, memory, or sense of nostalgia. Or even just allows a moment of reflection on things that are fleeting. If I think about the words visually, or as a gesture then it helps me not get too self-conscious or overthink the text I'm putting in the painting. Some of it is so emotionally charged, that if I overthink it then it will never make it into the work. I'm trying to learn not to be too scared about sharing my writing with people.
Definitely. Those are the paintings that affect me most when I'm in the room with them, or even when looking at them through a screen or in print. You can't fake emotion or integrity in painting. I also think you have to put in the work as a viewer to become in tune with or open to be being affected emotionally by a piece of art.
I actually don't know too much about poetry or read that much. I love Dorothy Parker's poem 'Resume'. Music and lyrics are a great influence on me ... bands like The Replacements, Throwing Muses and Young Marble Giants. A lot of their lyrics are domestic and observational; they're like diaries of human existence.
I love Blinky Palermo, Francis Bacon, Leon Golub, Frank Auerbach.
I love working through emotions and solving problems when I'm creating. I love being surprised by the outcome. I love being surrounded by colour. I love everything about the act of painting, even when it's physically and emotionally demanding.