A new arrival
They arrived unexpectedly, a procession of strange tree forms with wispy branches reaching out to anyone who’ll listen.
‘Spirits’ is a new body of work which has taken me by surprise. It has grown out of my recent study of movement and gesture but morphed into something quite different. For a long time I’ve studiously avoided drawing branchy details but these works demanded them to counter the powerful gestures of their decapitated trunks.
They began as trees but have become something (or someone) beyond that category of creature, so I’ve named their characters accordingly. You might detect hints of religious art, gothic romanticism and medical imaging in what you see, but there’s probably just as much that you bring to them from your own experience as I have gathered in my research.
Surfacing from the deep
This autumn I’ve been taking a deep dive into my art, immersing myself in the studio to really get to the good stuff. Without an imminent exhibition deadline, I’ve relished the freedom to explore, to fail and discover. It’s been an intense but joyful activity in an otherwise disturbing time here in the UK.
I had a notion to make drawings with an uncanny quality, combining harmony and discord, both unsettling and reassuring at the same time. To achieve this I’ve used a sensitive, at times almost tentative approach to line, feeling my way round the drawing. I’ve drawn, erased, redrawn, erased again, shifting charcoal dust around until the image emerges.
Much of the white space of the gesso ground is untouched and the charcoal and conté marks almost float over the surface. They hover in the picture plane, untethered and free from a landscape and its associations. Animation has long been a fascination for me (fun fact, I used to be a puppeteer) and I like to imagine these still images might start moving at any time.
I’ll do another blog post on the background and development of this series soon, along with sharing my slightly unnerving playlist for it.
See the series
There are 20 works in this series so far, all on square format wood panel in three sizes. There’s another surprise – I’ve never before found a satisfying way to compose a square drawing but I’m delighted with the way these occupy their spaces.
I’m trying something else new and will be offering them for sale direct to my subscribers and followers, rather than through an exhibition (if you don’t already get my Studio Newsletter you can add yourself here). I think these characters need homes to watch over, don’t you?