'The Street (Rags)', oil on canvas, 80 x 60cms, 2017
As we reach the end of the year I’ve been reflecting on how many new paintings I’ve created this year, much more than in the previous one. This has largely been because I worked on some very large paintings in 2016 and as a reaction to this rather labour intensive period of work, in the winter last year I started making many small paintings quite quickly in an attempt to open things up a bit. Strangely, it did indeed open things up but also in its own way as the year has progressed the paintings seemed to have become increasingly sort of narrow in their outlook. In five years I’ve gone from depicting large, expansive motorways, brooding trucks and transit depots to discarded paper bags, skips, abandoned cookers and other detritus found in the local streets where I live. It feels lately like I’m in danger of disappearing into my own navel. Things have just got a bit too downbeat, man.
'The Street (Paper Bag)', oil on canvas, 60 x 60cms, 2017
But don’t get me wrong, this has also felt very ‘right’ to me too, for reasons that are also impossible to explain, and I’m not sure I would want to try. I’ve really enjoyed the work this year in a way that I haven’t for quite some time: I like working smaller and have experimented a lot with form, technique and language with varying degrees of success and leaving me with more questions than answers, but I do feel like I now need to look up from the pavement and seek out new territories as I move into 2018. So, I have a few more paintings planned in this vein- I’m currently enjoying working on some paintings of empty boxes(!)- in an attempt to make a more cohesive and stronger body of work in my ‘Negativland’ series, which I’m planning to exhibit next year, but after that I want to have a much needed re-think…