In the past ten years I've become heavily interested in political, social and environmental problems and a feeling of outrage has growth within me at the shameful actions of our government and the electorate who collaborated.
The themes that interest me are
- Environmental destruction.
- Abuses of Power.
- The rigged game.
- Poverty and inequality.
- Social injustice.
- Dreams and frustrated hopes.
- The decline of the intellect.
- The loss of feelings.
- The artist's relationship to our time.
- Disenchantment and despair.
- The inability to find recognition.
These themes are probably better suited to literature, or even direct action, but my medium is painting and I am amongst the powerless.
I want to create personal works exploring our contemporary history. To confront and challenge, to go against the consensus, to be antagonistic to mass culture. To feel free to explore unpleasant, unpopular and forbidden material. Angry and provocative. Not caring about success. Pursuing my own artistic interest.
I don't create work for the market, it compromises integrity. I reject prevailing fashion. I make them purely for myself. Not caring about the establishment or the public. Fuck the art market!
I make warnings. It's an act of rebellion.
Born in Dudley 1973.
Studied Fine Art at Dudley College and Wolverhampton University.
Obsessed with life drawing, my early charcoals were initially compared to those of Van Gogh and Millet for the depictions of ordinary people.
Formative years were spent in the Black Country, an area of urban deprivation that made a deep impression upon me.
He has continued to experiment, rejecting what he does, scraping back old paintings to start again, continuing for months or years until the single painting is realised.
Since 2009, i've lived in Norfolk but I couldnt say where my true home is anymore. Leaving the EU has intensified my sense of alienation from my country.
My paintings are equivalents for feelings. I want images that convey the things that trouble me. A visual metaphor. Not out of a need to shock, but rather to be genuine and authentic, and to describe what others would rather not know – the darker view of mankind. I'm interested in the forgotten places, neglected people and unreported worlds. Truth isn’t always what everyone wants to hear. The realities of life are uncomfortable and can harm the culture esteemed at the time, but art is for those who would rather live without pipe dreams. I wish to expose a lie and use a canvas as a camera turned on the human race.
Power - The force that corrupts all who obtain it. An elite who act in their own interest. The multinational corporation as a terror on the planet. The monolithic, leviathan machine behaving like a psychopath. Threat to the planet. Enemy of democracy. The mindless markets. The world caught in a battle between economic mindsets - neo-liberalism versus socialism. Our power over nature is negligent. My contempt for authority.
Rigged Game - Social inequality and injustice. The exclusion of the majority from a humane standard of living. Oppression of the poor maintained by the rich. Slavery. Division. The walls that divide us. Poverty, welfare, the refugee. Yet often collaborate with their enemy.
Body Snatchers - The social pressure to conform to the dominant system. The expectation by peers to behave 'normal' even though it is highly abnormal, irrational, prejudiced, bigoted, built on lies. Feeling trapped by a culture and a society that voted brexit, is consumerist, philistine, anti-intellectual, unfeeling, provincial, lawless, football, escapism. The silly rate race. The absurdity of man. Dysfunctional society. It means nothing to me.
Survival - The frustration of knowing what I want in life yet it's always out of reach. Forced into situations where I feel underused, dissatisfied and unappreciated. Forced down a narrow path into the mundane and the mediocre. Trapped. Restricted by others. Compromise. Dreams eroding. The desperate hopes. Feeling of failure and powerlessness. Prostituting for money. Holding on to integrity in the face of the world. How much am I prepared to betray myself? My intellectual autonomy pitted against small mindedness. I think for myself, refuse to follow the crowd, and I'm prepared to be unpopular and isolated rather than conform to something I don’t believe in.
Alienation - The cruelty of others simply because we aren't like them. Haunting memories of relationships, reaching out and being burnt. Wounds that create a demon of hatred and vengeance. Outrages. I am a reaction to the world.
Endangered Life - Many of the things that are vital to life are threatened. Watching them die is a source of pain. Environmental destruction, capitalist civilisation recklessly destroying its own lifeline. Man as destructive species. The cultural decline in the face of commercial pressures. The decline of cinema, fine art and seriousness. The rise of shallow disposable escapism. Forgotten films and filmmakers. The intellect, libraries, knowledge, the printed book. Suppression. Human feelings have become outcast. Suppressed by social etiquette and convention. Social reality in conflict with creative liberty. The endangered artist.
Disenchantment - Wanting to make a difference, to have influence, to reach people, to find affinity with others. I am witness to history and compelled to express the disquiets of this society. Those few tools that are within my control, painting and writing, yet no one cares or notices. My despair. I am powerless. We are at journeys end. The dystopia is today. I want out. But where do I go?
My primary preoccupation is human self-destructiveness. The way that technological and social progress has left a trail of wreckage in it’s wake – the rape of the natural world; the inevitability of climate change; our enslavement to consumerism; the social problems that fail to be resolved. I’m also interested in the way that our culture and its institutions make each of us conform to a set of values that benefit those who run society more than those at the bottom. We think we are free but act like obedient servants who willingly accept and defend our imposed roles without ever questioning them.
1. Who are you and where are you from?
I was born in Dudley in 1973 to a what i later understood to be a dysfunctional family but back then it was considered normal. As a child I witnessed domestic violence by my father towards my mother and it was later directed towards myself. Until the age of seven I didn’t go to school or have a permanent home because me and mom were on the road to avoid harm. When we eventually settled into a council house, I started school and was shocked by the fact that children can be beastly. I was a pacifist and liked reading books and those are disqualifying characteristics in the macho world of young boys. I felt a sense of alienation and injustice from a very early age and I still do today. My formal education started late and I never felt part of school. Mostly I’ve educated myself. I was an underclass boy impressed by learning because I had so little.
2. How did you discover your artistic side?
I don’t remember a particular moment when I discovered my artistic side, I think it was always there working towards expression. When I was very young, my mother encouraged me to sketch wildlife. And later my grandfather taught me perspective drawing. My father was not artistic and showed no support for my interests. When I left school, while most of my friends did a YTS course, I chose to go to Dudley College to study Art, Design, Photography and Film. We had some great teachers, especially the history of photography classes. I made some good friends of a similar ilk. I was drilled in academic drawing and the idea of drawing as a scrutiny of a subject, as a struggle with its strangeness and resistances. I have respect for the immense skill and practice required to paint.
After that, I studied Product Design at Wolverhampton University but it was an awful course and I was at that point where I was questioning things about the world. I read Design for the Real World by Victor Papanek and it caused me to quit my degree. The next ten years were pretty bad, with failures in my personal relationships and in my attempt to find my way in the world. I kept notebooks and sketchbooks but unemployment featured regularly and nothing sends you into depression more. When I was lost, it was actually books that were a kind of salvation. The main ones were The Biographical Dictionary of Film (David Thomson) and The Ascent of Man (Jacob Bronowski). Without Thomson I wouldn’t have discovered Citizen Kane, La Regle de Jeu, Gertrud, Voyage to Italy, Lola Montes or Ugetsu Monogatari.
In 2005, whilst doing conservation work, I was asked to produce a mural for Dudley Zoo. I’d never attempted anything like this before. For 10 years afterwards I had regular commissions. Then in 2009 I met Catherine and moved to Norfolk and that’s when I produced my first landscape. I like solitude but sometimes feel too detached from the things that concern me. An artist should stay close to the things that pain them.
3. Tell us something about your work. How would you describe your style?
I taught myself to use oils in 2009 through reading Ralph Mayer and looking at the work of other artists. I have great respect for the traditional craftsmanship as practiced in Venice and by the Renaissance. Similar to Titian I’m a studio artist and take months over each painting, building up the layers and reworking. I’m not influenced by fashion or the work of my peers, I’m only interested in achieving a definite style that is my own and I’m still working towards that perfect expression of my feelings and thoughts. I think there isn’t an easy way to learn painting other than through the metres of canvas painted.
I’m an artist who depends on selling his work to survive and the hardest part is finding a balance between authenticity and market demand. I’m naturally melancholy, serious and dark and though that is essential to my personal paintings yet can make my landscape non-commercial. In the last few years landscapes have come to interest me. I’m currently working towards a style where the paintings have atmosphere and emotional weight purely through the style of painting and not through the subject painted.
When sales get low you think that your work is not good. It's very challenging being a self-representing artist. But once you pass those hurdles and remain confident in yourself as an artist then it all starts getting a little easier.
I often prostitute myself. I do things out of the need for money. Because without money I am powerless. Yet apparently an artist should never admit that they work for money, society has unrealistic expectations, they want us to be authentic, true to ourselves, to suffer and die for our art, whilst they live in luxury. Is it possible to be successful in the arts and still keep your soul?
I personally have to be true to myself, to my own feelings. When have other people ever influenced me anyway.
4. What / who inspires you?
The Norfolk landscape doesn’t greatly inspire me. What drives me to paint is my concerns about the world. Painting is my way of saying things that aren’t easy to talk about. I’ve considered several artistic mediums, and my first love is film, but painting is easier and more affordable and allows for the creation of images of provocation. My primary preoccupation is human self-destructiveness. The way that technological and social progress has left a trail of wreckage in it’s wake – the rape of the natural world; the inevitability of climate change; our enslavement to consumerism; the social problems that fail to be resolved. I’m also interested in the way that our culture and its institutions make each of us conform to a set of values that benefit those who run society more than those at the bottom. We think we are free but act like obedient servants who willingly accept and defend our imposed roles without ever questioning them. My paintings are an attempt to capture an equivalent on canvas. To create an image that has the power to convey the things that trouble me. Not so much to shock, but rather to be genuine and to obey the responsibility of the artist to describe what others would rather not know. Truth isn’t always what everyone wants to hear. The realities of life are uncomfortable but art is for those who would rather live without pipe dreams.
5. Do you go long stretches without painting?
Most of the time, I can keep painting pretty consistently. Sometimes it’s difficult to begin a new large canvas, but once I start, I always complete the work. Sometimes, I feel inspired to write instead of painting, in which case, I may go a few weeks without painting. Painting is physically tiring, so I may take a break for a while and do something else instead.
6. Who are your favourite artists and what makes them special for you?
I’m influenced by many things but in regards to paintings I admire the portraits of Raphael, Da Vinci, Titian, Durer and Rembrandt; the interiors of Hammershoi, Vermeer and Sickert; Goya’s war etchings; Schiele’s self-images of sexual distress; the moves towards abstraction in the landscapes of Turner, Monet, Whistler, Constable and Hopper; and a kinship with some of the ideas of Rothko and Picasso. If only I could paint as well as these people. Very little of contemporary art interests me. Of living painters perhaps Anselm Kiefer, Fernando Botero and Paula Rego. Most of today’s art has become decadent, self-indulgent, disposable and reached a dead end.
I feel more of a kinship with some writers, journalists, filmmakers.
7. Do you have any words of inspiration to other artists and aspiring artists?
I don't consider myself a success but I would say to never compromise your art. To read and experience all that you can. Keep an open mind. Don’t think of landscapes and portraits as old fashioned and irrelevant. When opportunity knocks, don’t say no. Don’t be afraid of making mistakes. Don’t settle on one idea or one style. Forget what all your teachers told you and just start figuring out things for yourself. And realize that there’s no such thing as quick fame or quick money. The greatest difficulty as an artist is staying the course and allowing myself to enjoy the moment and the process.
Highly Personal and Authentic Art Works from a Contemporary British Figurative Artist. Dark and Intense original oil paintings on canvas expressing environmental and social concerns.
The Disenchanted Romantic - Resonance - Thought Provoking Fine Art - Politically Engaged - The Human Figure - Lockdown.
Norfolk, United Kingdom
First Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org