Wednesday, 17 December 2014


oil on canvas, 150 x 100cms, 2014

I’ve been working on this painting for a few weeks. I think it’s finished now. After completing most of the painting in one longer session I then spent several evenings developing it further. I did this by scraping and rubbing paint on and then off again, glazing different parts, and adjusting the colour up and down till it worked. What makes it work for me, I’m never quite sure. You make these informed, technical adjustments that make it hold together, but you hope that it goes beyond that level of understanding and something more unknown intervenes and a sort of ‘rightness’ (not a technical term!) occurs. I know this all sounds rather fanciful, but I do think that’s where the heart of something more interesting lies, but it is difficult to explain. I know many artists will understand exactly what I mean though.

It’s a bit of a flat-footed, almost a bit theatrical ( I was actually thinking a bit about Beckett’s minimal stage sets with just a very few props),  and certainly the most direct image of a lorry I’ve made so far, at least on the surface.  I’ve seen a few paintings of lorries, such as in the Photo-realism exhibition at BMAG last year, or other, more sentimental, examples done by more so-called ‘Sunday’ Painters, and although I like to nod to both these things, and think the image possesses obvious inherent romantic qualities, it ultimately distills many of the ongoing interests I have in painting, like so much of what I do.  What I like most though is that it seems a bit more of a break with the motorway paintings, although with obvious ties to them. I feel more excited than I have for a while as I’ve been slowly trying to move forward with the work. This feels a bit new and different.

pastel studies

I’m really warming to the lorry theme, and this is my fourth painting now that features them (I’m not sure whether to refer to them as trucks or lorries: trucks seems a bit too American, but a bit cooler than lorries, which sound a bit naff when I’m discussing them with other people (‘Yeah, I’m doing a few paintings of…er…lorries at the moment…’ Blank look. I get that about anything I’m doing though). I’m not trying to be cool though, or American, so I think I will have to settle for lorries).  I’ve been eyeing them up, and taking photos whenever I come across them and been making a few new drawings trying to develop it further still.  When you start to hone in on something, you start really looking at things differently. I keep jumping out the car to go back and photograph some enormous articulated vehicle parked up in some lay-by. Either that or I excitedly stop dead in my tracks, breath taken away, as I do a late night run for a pint of milk to the local Tesco express and find a huge delivery lorry parked up front. These things….

'Locke' starring Tom Hardy

I’m reminded a bit of ‘Locke’, the recent film starring Tom Hardy as a Construction Manager, Ivan Locke, and all the action is set completely in the cab of his car as he heads down the M1 out of Birmingham to London (it said M1 but I’ve always done M40!), at night on the eve of the biggest concrete pour in Europe, which he is due to supervise in the morning. Hardy is the only character we see as he has various hands free telephone conversations with his family, his co-workers, and lover. It’s a great film, with beautiful and atmospheric shots of the motorway at night.  Add it to your Xmas wish list…


Hugh Marwood said...

Various male, motor-vehicle fixated members of my family used to refer to lorries as 'wagons'. It's a term I still like for its slightly archaic, but essentially descriptive aspects. I'm liking these new nocturnal lorry images, not least for your ability to conjure an eerie stillness out of something essentially mundane, - much as you did with the motorway.

Driving late at night fascinates me a lot as a variety of existential, strangely meditative activity, these days. I always enjoy the vision of lonely artics parked in lay-bys that loom out of the darkness.

You've done better at using a phone to take photos than me. I get frustrated by my inability to hold the silly little thing steady, and hate touch screens generally. However, I like the leaking light flares and grabbed, anti-compositional aspects of yours. Makes me realise I should stop wanting everything to behave like an SLR and embrace the random a bit more in my own photography.

Cheers for reminding me of 'Locke'. It's a film I regretted missing at the flicks and could subsequently, never remember the title of. It sounds like it ticks several of my boxes and is, consequently, on the post-Xmas shopping list.

Have a good one.

shaun morris said...

Thanks Hugh. That's a welcome comment, and I really like the idea of Wagons, so I may proceed with that instead! I'm glad someone else enjoys the idea of the lorries in laybys etc. It has felt a bit mad doing them, but in a good way I think.

I've really enjoyed your recent concrete postings, and the development of the new paintings combined with the idea of a film. Really looking forward to 'Mental Mappings'. have a great break