I have never written about my obsessive interest in prehistoric figurines carved from rock, ivory or sometimes modelled in clay. Does it need to be emphasised? Perhaps as a subject of embarrassment? The interest is obvious if you glance through the library of my visual work.
This will be the final version of this image; the fourth screen-print based on a pencil drawing. The source of the drawings were two separate photographs in a book called From Lucy to Language. Both the print and the original drawing are included, for comparison purposes.
As with many people who paint and draw I also write. Much of this is poetry or prose-poetry. I enjoy trying to construct the complex imagery in a poem, without having to rely heavily on narrative, plot and characterisation.
Most of my work strives for imagery and rythmic use of words, and much of it is very personal in subject matter. Some does address wider subjects, where they catch my interest. Unsurprisingly the recent referendum vote which will change our relationship with the rest of Europe at the behest of a narrow majority of petty English nationalists, peppered with a sprinkling of bigots, caught my attention. I have chosen to express my outrage in what I would describe as a prose poem, mainly because my use of metaphor consisting of the religious customs surrounding bones of venerated individuals mixed with the rituals of an even earlier era when individuals were sacrificed to guarantee their god’s favour for tribe and the expectation of a good harvest. The imagery is consistent with the metaphor. The text only has a very loose narrative and is too short to develop a plot.
These latest screenprints are based on my fascination with the skulls of our remote ancestors. The original drawings were based on photographs of fossilised skulls from our deep past. The drawings were then scanned into a computer and operated into six layers
I learnt screenprinting at art college. This was in the early 1970’s. It it was a graphic process secondary to the photography which I used to document the environments I was working in. The small number of screenprints I produced used some of these 35mm photographic negatives as their source.
Am the arrow,
The dew that flies
Suicidal, at one with the drive
Into the red
Eye, the cauldron of morning.
Sylvia Plath, “Ariel” from Collected Poems. Copyright © 1960, 1965, 1971, 1981 by the Estate of Sylvia Plath. Editorial matter copyright © 1981 by Ted Hughes..
The photographs document the obvious stages in my most recent painting. The work is painted in acrylic paint on canavas. The composition was assembled from three different sketchbook drawings. The drawings were copied lightly in pencil and then outlined in an intense violet mixed with a small amount of Prussian Blue. Two thin washes of colour were then applied over the drawing. A cool lemon yellow from the top left corner diagonally to the centre of the canvas.
Recently, I have had the pleasure to view a variety of John’s artistic works. The three examples above are in my top favourites, each for unique reasons. The first is a portrait of a dear friend, a piece of realism. However, the warmth of the colours perfectly capture her big heart.
This can only be described as a very simple painting. The original image was a colour photograph, which contained both the head and torso of the woman. My interest was in the reflection, and what effect the textural qualities of the stocking would add to the foreground, containing the rippling water, distorting the woman’s reflection.