An ongoing series of portraits of people I’ve known, done from memory rather than observation. The series began when I lost a dear friend, that I hadn’t seen for a long time but whose presence in my life was indelible and important. I had no photographs and wanted to capture something of him before time took him away from my memory too. There are many people who have left a trace and this series is about recording their presence by making portraits of them. While some people are no longer alive, many are and some may never have existed at all, I wanted to make all the portraits from memory. I’m interested in what memory and the closely aligned imagination can bring out that direct observation cannot, the psychological dramas of our relationships and the unnamable shifts a single interaction can cause. I am interested in how the felt past and anticipated future inform the lived present, particularly in the moment of making the portrait.
Occasionally I make a self-portrait as part of the project. These portraits seem to reflect what I imagine myself to look like, not looking in a mirror but based on how the external world seems to project back to me, who or what I am. These portraits are often influenced by other cultural or socio-political issues that are foremost in my mind at the time of painting.
Belladonna Eyes Self Portrait from Memory 2019
She does not blink. She looked at the people looking at her. She looked at herself being watched. She could not perceive of herself as being the object of the sentence.
This painting, a self-portrait, is part of the ongoing series of portraits of people I’ve known, made from memory. I had the title, which came from a film installation I did years ago, in mind for this painting before starting.
Belladonna comes from foxgloves and in large doses is a deadly poison. In small doses it was administered to the eyes of Hollywood actresses in order to dilate their pupils to simulate arousal and attraction, blinding them, albeit temporarily, in the process.
Remembered : a Self Portrait
Painted from memory, first with granite and then pigments and oils. The portrait embodies the picture I have of myself, the image found inside my head that might emerge when called to express its external self. The mind mixes deep seated notions of self with those projected onto us by others.
Selected for the The Ruth Borchard Prize Exhibition 2017 and acquired for The Ruth Borchard Next Generation Collection.
A third type of portrait is a powerful figment, conjured by the imagination or seeded by someone else, they may be fictional but they too become part a memory of someone having touched me. These portraits are entirely from the imagination.
William Golding’s novel The Inheritors is told through a young Neanderthal, Lok, as his small tribe encounter the ‘others’. It is through Lok’s eyes and head full of pictures that we piece together the unsettling truth that the aggressive interlopers are us, and that we spell the end of his gentle earth-centred species.
Lok's Head began on a beach in north Devon while collecting earth pigments in the rain. Wet rock turned to paint and the picture in my head of Lok emerged. Having unearthed Lok, the final layers of wax protect him from us, peering through the wax, as if to a distant past we see only a memory of him, one we can only imagine.
Selected for the Royal Academy of Art Summer Exhibition 2017. Private collection.