I entered my work into a competition and for the application I had to write 500 words about my work. This was more words than I thought! Normally I am condensing writing about my work into a short paragraph or a couple of sentences. When I had the space to really write in depth about my work I found I was articulating things I hadn’t worked through much yet! Here’s what I wrote:
I work to describe the lived experience of being inside woodlands and cathedrals through painting and sculpture. Through these mediums I investigate visual, cultural and historical similarities between woodlands and cathedrals.
To communicate a lived experience I paint abstract woodland landscapes en plein air, that describe both my external senses and my internal experience of the woodland, the paint marks are a balancing act between these two things.
A white lined ‘structure’ is then added to the painting, imitating the depth and height of cathedral and woodland interiors. This structure is intended to imitate the experience of looking up at a great towering roof above you, with the vast space between you and the edge of the structure, be that the tree canopy or the cathedral ceiling.
This white ‘structure’ is first designed and created as a sculpture, drawing inspiration from cathedral architecture such as gothic cathedrals, which have columns and ceilings that mimic the shapes of trees. This sculpture is then photographed, drawn and projected onto the canvas, where the shape is traced. The white lines are intentionally layered over and under brush-marks to create the illusion of depth in the painting.
I hope the viewer of my work feels this sense of being within a great space, but also that the abstract quality of the work gives the viewer the freedom to interpret their own meaning within the scene. Painting these spaces abstractly allows me to describe my individual experience of a space far more accurately than I believe a photo realistic image could. Abstract painting attempts to record the experience of a place that goes beyond what we can see, and records the subjective atmosphere and mood of the space, through colour and gesture.
The aim of the work is to tie wild spaces to culture and heritage in Britain. I hope that the paintings prompt the viewer to consider their place within these ‘structures’ be that natural spaces or religious buildings. My research behind the artwork investigates belief systems in British history; the links between religion or spirituality and woodlands is huge, and so the ‘structures’ in my work play perhaps not just with physical structures, but also structures of belief. In today’s world belief can sometimes feel vast and looming above us, as we navigate the world of politics and conflict, and I hope to acknowledge and process this within my work.
My paintings are also a reminder of the value of being immersed in nature. With wild spaces ever decreasing in the UK, my work aims to remind the viewer of the mindful and healing nature of woodlands and natural spaces.
So it seems my paintings are a form of personal therapy for processing the hectic and divided modern world we live in, of which I hope the viewer can also share in.