About the Artist
First of all, I am a painter working between figuration and abstraction. The rupture between figuration and abstraction is where I find associations that are both personal and universal. There are no prescriptions, cannons, or rules for making images in this territory.
Working in this way moves me in directions that are non-linear, circuitous, and indirect…There is absolutely no way to predict the outcome. It’s in the physical action of piling up layers of paint, mucking things up, creating and destroying, moving ahead and falling back that I begin to see the possibilities emerge. Surfaces are important. Rich textural surfaces and superimposed figures meld in the recent mixed-media paintings. I often take discarded work and begin reworking that surface, pushing things around until they begin to make sense…There is a kind of awkwardness or strangeness I am after in the composition. I don’t know how I get to it, but it’s in there. It’s just a matter of finding it.
I also understand that place and time are very important in the development of my work. Thematic transitions accompany relocations in working spaces, geography, and cultural community. I am from another country, Northern Ireland, and I am definitely aware of how place, community, and physical space affect my work. My mother brought me to live here during the time of “The Troubles” in order to escape the violence happening there at that time. My father remained behind, working as a police inspector in Belfast. I was often worried for his safety. The themes in my work have been influenced by that time, and interestingly, some of those images, the x-rays and knee-caps, took on new significance to me when I had a life-changing accident a couple of winters ago.
I work in series. A series of paintings that explores thematic content enables me to investigate a range of ideas over a period of time and to examine relationships between technique, material, content, and form. For example, in my current work I am looking back to earlier explorations that involved x-ray figures, glazes, layered color, and most recently computer imaging transfer techniques. The importance of re-cycling earlier themes is that I come to a better understanding of their significance and their context in new work.
Once as a fifth grader in England, my art teacher introduced us to collage. I remember thinking there was something extremely satisfying and even magical in the process of sticking bits and pieces of printed image down on a paper to form weird patterns and bizarre images. The collage form stuck with me. At that time, I also became obsessed with pictures of renaissance angels. I think the combination of human and animal parts (bird wings) created an image that I literally thought of as a sensually charged image and I have used both the collage technique and wing image to pry open the connection between the spiritual and the physical.
Here, in my current work, the figures–animal and human–are presented in fractured vignettes and in a pictorial space that is the result of intuitive and deliberate actions. The abstract passages in the work oppose and correspond to the figurative elements. Surface textures and textual elements compete for dominance. Marks and factures create a ground against which figurative elements are embedded, smashed, and squeezed until I sense they are nearing boiling point. The physical and the spiritual are folded into a pictorial space that is sensuous, provocative, and strange.