These paintings use everyday objects – bowls, glasses, fruit – as a starting point for looking, thinking and trying to record the process of doing so.
My work starts with an idea: the proposition that a stronger and more significant connection with the world is made when you spend time looking at it. This type of looking is active rather than passive and takes time. It is this change in pace and attention that creates room for discoveries. So to force this change in attention, and try to eliminate distraction, I choose things that are familiar.
The common and everyday are no less beautiful or moving or significant than the spectacular, it is just that they are easily overlooked. As we live in a world with so much competing for our attention, simplifying what we examine may help us see more clearly.
In this process of looking there is a degree of learning which works in opposite but complimentary directions. One is the process of trying to see innocently, or without preconceptions or prejudices. To remove or ignore the assumptions about what we think we know. The other is to see critically and try and make sense of what is being viewed. One seeks to undo, while the other seeks to build.
The work is also about the activity and process of painting. I’m interested in how a painting is put together: the form, composition, tone, colour, how the paint is used, the brush marks and gestures and how to use the materials to make sense of what has been seen.
In the same way that the subjects are restrictive, the way they are painted is also restrictive. The colour palette, compositions, tones and visual vocabulary are all as simple as possible, in order to be as clear as possible.
The paintings are the result of trying to push the activity of looking and thinking through the materials and in many ways are the record of this process. The results, I hope, somehow transfigure the objects they depict and access something beyond the subjects themselves. And it is this alternative view – as in the way something looks and the perspectives on it – which interests me.
We connect with images of figures naturally. But to support this empathy the figure must be believable and have a trace of empirical knowledge. One way to develop this is the traditional practice of studying the skeleton.
As images, skeletons and skulls have immediate, complicated and on the whole, negative associations. They hold the implied future story we all participate in. Death is a difficult subject.
But there is more there than pessimistic dread . Rather than glance away or reject this seemingly negative message, I am interested in what else can be done, and learnt from this powerful and complex image of ourselves.
It is not through a fatalistic or morbid lens that this work is done. I am interested in what new message could be quietly whispering through this subject and what could change as a result.