'Morning Way', oil on canvas, 75 x 50cms, 2020
The lockdown begins. It’s hard to take in at first and for the first week of it I am unwell with many of the Covid symptons so we all have to self-isolate at home. I’m anxious about us all being thrown together as a family twenty-four seven. Our family life can be stressful at the best of times so how will we cope with this? When news comes that we are allowed a daily hour of exercise we gradually venture out and slot into a daily routine that begins with me walking the dog with one of the children while my wife works from home and tries to also offer some education to the other child left at home.
'Markers In The Ground', oil on canvas, 50 x 75cms, 2020
At first the walks are strange and tense. The long street is empty as we head to the common but if we should happen to see someone coming the other way we hastily cross the road dragging the poor dog behind us. It’s a relief to get to the common and off the road and we head up a winding path up to the canal, walk along there a bit, and head back down towards the stream, cross the bridge, walk the path between tall, thin trees towards that cast long, flickering shadows in the mid-morning sun, towards the road. Crossing the road, we join the path to the Common again, follow the stream, listen and look out for the birds whose song seems to fill the air now the roads are silent, before leaving the Common again, past the large pond the dog loves to jump in, before heading up the steep hill back to our estate. We do this every day for at least 6 weeks.
As Yet Untitled, oil on canvas, 50 x 35cms, 2020
It’s the beginning of April and as the month progresses we witness the spring bring everything to life in abundance in day after day of uncommonly warm sunshine, a blessing of some sort. It’s very joyful and compelling to experience and I try and share it with the children but just below the surface I feel numb and barely able to move. I feel an enormous sense of loss as the days go by and the death toll mounts up out there in the country away, but not that far away, from what now seems our little world of just the four of us trying to get through each long day. When my head hits the pillow I can hardly talk and I try not to think too much about it all, apart from watching the news for 10 minutes I find myself avoiding it as much as possible. I’m just trying to get on with it. I find I can’t get to sleep most nights.
'The Trees', oil on canvas, 75 x 50cms each canvas, 2020
I start taking photographs on our walks of the trees, the hedgerows and pathways through the wooded edgelands and send them off to be printed. I start making experimental digital studies from them on my tablet that I’m excited by and attempt to make some paintings based on them. I feel compelled to capture something of my mental state during this period in some strange way before it slips away and we head to who knows where. I’m already sort of mourning the loss of the loss and what felt like some sort of weird and precious time we experienced as a family that feels like it is slipping away already.
As yet untitled, oil on canvas, 150 x 120cms, 2020
So, despite the paintings, with their images of a heady, bucolic natural world, seemingly going off in what on the surface may seem like an unexpected direction I’m beginning to see how they are still connected to my interest in hauntology and lost futures and are an opportunity to expand my ideas much further…