T S Eliot reversed this quote from Mary Queen Of Scots, spoken upon the eve of her beheading. On either reading, both versions of the phrase bring forward the issue of mortality and articulate a metaphor of life as a temporal line, from one end to the other.
A cold white light line cut in to a white freestanding wall. Splintered at one end and singular at the other it sits without reference to where it starts or finishes.
Laurence Sterne’s character Corporal Trim waves his stick in the air crying “Man is Free!”. Sterne draws it in the book.
I took the OS map line of the river Usk in Wales, that at one end meets the sea whilst at the other end takes form from the springs in the high Beacons of Powys where I lived.
The work can be displayed either in darkness or light. It doesn't matter. Your choice.
2015 Floor maquettes and paintings Irregular white Perspex, mud, wheels Five pieces approx 60 x 60 Watercolours on paper Approx 20 x 20
Whilst walking through Whitechapel in the east end of London I noticed pinned to a lamp post a police notice announcing that the area had been designated a ‘dispersal zone’. This notice gave police extra powers by which they could remove people from the designated area without that removed person ever having committed a crime.
The notice with accompanying map, posted in an ethnically diverse and culturally rich area, got me thinking about the movement and regulation of people. In my sketchbooks I started using watercolour to outline this and other dispersal zones of London, making shapes that began to resemble a jigsaw that would never fit together. Form took the boundaries of the zones and the pigment naturally merged moved and pushed the edges, allowing a tension with containment to come forward.
At the time of making the works a high stratospheric wind brought sand from the Sahara across London leaving a thin layer visible over windows and car bonnets. I had also noticed the way market traders in Whitechapel moved internationally sourced goods along the Mile End Road in small container trolleys on wheels. Thinking on this helped develop the sheets of perspex fitted with wheels that when covered in wet clay mud slowly dried out over a few days. As they dried they were unable to hold their form and fractured revealing their fragility and the instability of the pre-designated form.
2013-2106 + Open-ended series of C-Type photographic prints 28 x 21 cm
The first ecological crisis I recall being aware of was the sudden destruction wrought by Dutch elm disease. Within a few years skeletal trees haunted the landscape. Since then other diseases, global pollution and large scale farming have taken their toll.
Trees hide their mirroring root networks beneath the earth, they reach over and above us, and are sensitive and vulnerable to matters which we in our being do not see or consciously feel.
Within the landscape dead trees stand out, austere beautiful skeletons which place mortality and the future within sight.
2016 Collaboration with photo-artist Will Carter and poet Fiona Hamilton C-Type photograph and Duratran light box print Booklet, drawings, ink paintings, event
Llwyn Celyn is a fifteenth century welsh manor house in need of repair that sits on the eastern edge of the Black Mountains in Wales. In the winter of 2015 just before the Landmark Trust started renovation and repair I was one of four artists granted a residency.
My proposal was to examine the fracture lines found within the set of buildings. Using light and photography I wanted to record images of a particular moment in time, a method that would bring to the fore and scrutinize the fragility of the stone edifices. I had in mind to explore the quiet violence on display in these lines of visceral decay, to allow what was often overlooked to come in to focus and to toy with ideas of beauty.
The project developed in to a collaboration with William Carter and the poet Fiona Hamilton, as we staged english and welsh readings with video projections, displayed photographs, light boxes and ink sketches, and published a small booklet. The works were shown at a ticketed event on site and later The Bomb Factory and Eisteddfod.
The works were funded with the assistance of Arts Alive Wales and Landmark Trust.
The Fall of Troy
2016 Mixed media installation Bitumen, branches, bio-resin, photograph, canvas, cast
Apples can seem a peculiarly english fruit conjuring up sentimental images of orchards fecundity and Keats. In this project my apple has been bitten in to and is falling, playing with both biblical and Greek mythologies as well as Snow White. Paris was given the responsibility by Zeus to award the apple to the most beautiful goddess. Selecting Aphrodite who promised him the love of Helen, he went on to incur the wrath of Hera and Athene and so started the Trojan Wars. In Genesis it is the eating of the apple that leads to the great Fall and the expulsion from the Garden of Eden. I was attracted to how in these mythologies local gestures result in great conflicts, and what is fecund also is dangerous.
The project consciously juxtaposes beauty and destruction, and was initiated after I realised I had been developing a fixation with dead trees. Using bitumen and black resins, which fascinate with their oily sheen whilst repelling with their toxicity, the project looks back at old petrol pumps and branches in the trees whilst also gazing forward as the same branch appears drenched in black tar. Alongside another bush is upended and soaked in bitumen whilst a painting consists solely of black drip lines.
Climate change, petroleum based products and aesthetics of toxicity all inform this project and simultaneously cast a sideways glance to the relationship between art and oil.
Waterlines / Fieldlines
2014 Bitumen, wire, plastic Approx 70 x 100cm
Constructed whilst living in a remote valley in the Brecon Beacons, 'Fill' is the reconstruction of the field map of Dyffryn Crawnon. Walking in the valley and the wider area made me aware of the the back plastic hay coverings that unravel and wind up wrapped in the thorn hedgerows. The hedgerows form natural barriers to demarcate ownership of the land, to control livestock property whilst weaving around proprietorial history and the natural obstacles of cliffs and moor. Meanwhile new tarmac roads are laid and extended.
Fill allowed me to trace these lines with related materials and to then reconstruct this map back in to space and location.
2015 C-Type Photograph 27 x 40
sixteen individual paintings
watercolour on torn hand pressed paper
float mounted placed in square deep frames
hung as a single piece with textual guide
20 x 20 cm
The development of thinking from work done a few years prior, this piece fuses first hand memory with mapping by state authorities to contain by exclusion persons they deem problematic. I consciously worked with emotional responses to beauty poverty violence and criminality. When I was a criminal advocate I would often get asked “how can you do such a job?” . This should be taken as the beginning of an answer. The text is as much a part of the work as the paper, pigment and framing.
Goldhawk Road - “the first killing, a knife in the drain and a long walk to the secure unit ”
Ealing - “he had fled to escape torture and they imprisoned him despite all I said. this refugee student leader who became my friend ”
Barking - “ it was a long spring day in the old building with a young knifepoint robber whose face I cannot remember ”
Clerkenwell - “the unexpected death and then the slow walk in to the Old Bailey with the lad we all loved “
Vauxhall - “ I got a call in the leather club that the embassy had been invaded and had no time to change so just walked over Vauxhall Bridge “
Kings Cross - “a cold night search with a bodyguard friend borrowed from the Two Brewers, finding the alibi who later shot up in the office toilet “
Leytonstone - “heading to the station around midnight, leaving as the sun came up : never been before, never went again “
Brixton - “I walked from home, down the frontline to the cop shop, and later that night the inspector tried to put me in the cell “
Dagenham - “they moved to get away from the drugs and looked better for it and stayed out for a while“
Finsbury Park - “ they warned us that the Bomber may target the office “
Willesden - “I went in to the house and realised I was seeing a visceral poverty where I did not expect to find it “
Stockwell - “sitting in the smoky office with the boy rider, overlooking the tube, discussing TIC’s “
Bounds Green - “ retracing the routes they took with her when they were under surveillance “
Wembley - “getting disappointed with the judge I once respected “
Wood Green - “weeks in court on people trafficking after a trip to Kosova - they came to me as a murder squad detective warned me not to go over the mountains “
Camberwell - “stomach butterflies, cigarettes and my heavy Oxfam suit at the first police station interview “