Thursday, March 08, 2007

Some Very New Paintings

The first is 'Aunt Sylvie, Drunk, 1970s', which for me has a air of Abigail's Party about it. I imagine most family photo albums have a faded polaroid of a slightly tipsy aunt gurning for the camera after a smidge too much pomagne. The yellow is my invention, to throw Sylvie into a 1970's gaudy colourway.

'The Road to Tintagel' is one of my new Cornwall pictures, of the ruins of King Arthur's castle and the winding pathways and roads that lead to it and around the coast. This place was so romantic to me as a child, full to bursting with magic and mystery (I even collected stones in Merlin's Cave believing them to be talismanic). I enjoyed painting the expansive rugged landscapes. I wanted them to be deep and spatial so that your eye moves around, and the air around the landscape thick with the remnants of legends and stories of ghosts and wizards.

'The Beach' is Blackpool at some point either at the very end of the 1960's or early 1970's. I don't plan to identify the figures in the picture as I want the viewer to consider it in the light of his or her own life... (Although my work is rooted in personal memory and my own nostalgia, I believe the subjects dealt with are universal). I was quite pleased with my bus. There are number of stories going on, if you want them, or the focus of the picture is the sad boy. I was amused by the layers of clothes everyone's wearing. The old man asleep in the deckchair is in full three piece Sunday best. I want to paint the tower too... I have some fantastic faded pictures of Blackpool Tower against brooding skies (stormy afternoons). One of the few obsessions I miss from my East London subject is the sinister Hawkmoor churches I used to paint, and Blackpool Tower in my hands at least could be a similarly mysterious monument. We used to stay in a bed and breakfast in Blackpool run by a Mrs Vera Broadbent who used to let me play on her organ. I can't remember the name of the B&B but I do remember the taste of ginger beer served from the small bar in the sitting room, and reading palms in the breakfast room (at the time I was obsessed with fortune telling and the occult).

'Blood Brothers' is my brother and I, in my parent's bed, making funny faces. I like the way that Paul is looking towards me as though taking his lead from me for the camera.

'New Arrival' is about the birth of my sister. My mum has just returned from the hospital and i'm holding my baby sister with a wide-eyed sense of exitement and wonderment. I enjoyed painting the teaky 1970s furniture (my parent had some VERY funky furniture I have to say... including a fabulous orange leather sofa) and the antique stereo in the background. When I look at this picture I remember the smell of my new born sister, the lemon coloured blanket and the records my dad played on said antique sound system.

I've been working on some drawings as well. This one is called 'Mother's Dentistry, Cold Morning'. I once went with my mum to the Dentists, and being too young to be left in the waiting room on my own was taken to be sat in the room while the denist set to her. I remember this as one of the most terrifying experiences of my young life. Watching a masked man in a white coat and surgical gloves, gauging at my Mothers mouth with steel and mirrors, surrounded by glaring artifical lights and strange smells and fluids. The horror was extreme, and I had to carried off, hysterical and screaming, convinced that my mother was being tortured to death in this alien environment. The shapes in the drawing become the violence of the Dentist's attack.