What’s it all about then?
My working process began with collage. I wanted to reflect the fragmentation of contemporary experience – the way we have to make connections from the onslaught of information and images we receive, through the media and screen-based activities. The collage of image-fragments developed into the fragmentation of a single image through a variety of visual languages. The use of plastic/cling-film acts as a metaphor for the idea of the ‘second-handedness’ of our experience received through mediated photographic images – the idea of seeing something through something else – as well as emphasising the fragmentation idea in a painterly way.
Why only young faces?
The figures I represent are youthful. I choose models that are in, or approaching, the liminal state of adolescence. Faces at this stage act more like a mirror, allowing the viewer to project their own feelings or interpretations onto the image. Older faces, although interesting with their lines, wrinkles, nooks and crannies, contain too much character for me and become portraits rather than a ‘tronie’. The figure, for my purposes, needs to represent something unidentifiable and speak more generally about universalities of the human condition. Uncertain in age and ambiguously placed in time, the figures are often also non-specific in gender. I want to distil the figures to an essentialness; an essence.
How have you arrived at the content and style?
Often the figures are posed to echo art-historical characters: Mantegna’s Saint Sebastian, or one of Vermeer’s girls. When context is removed the figures become something else, oddly familiar; occupying an empty pictorial space; free from imposed narrative. I render the image with a mixture of visual languages: print, pattern, highly finished and semi-finished, often with ground, grids or underpainting visible to emphasise the structure of the painted image (produced through an input of time and human activity) as opposed to the mechanically produced, snapshot, photographic image.
What are you trying to convey?
My aim has been to create a contemplative space which conveys something of the Japanese sense of ‘mono no aware’. The best definition of this that I have found is: ‘beauty as an awareness of the transience of all things and a gentle sadness at their passing’.