running my fingers over the colours all lined up so perfectly straight like an extended rainbow. I’d forgotten that big part of my childhood – the colouring. Absorbed in colour. I don’t remember anyone trying to get me to do that. I would then draw circles and colour in segments, not so dissimilar to what have been doing now. That was a spontaneous remembering. We don’t consciously live our lives remembering do we? I wouldn’t thread it through like that. You just keep living.
I’m an outsider in art. By which I mean, I haven’t been trained. I haven’t been to art school for a degree. I’m
Cambridge and Oxford educated and I have another degree in creative writing. All that I left behind when I took up painting. I believe the brush marks I make are basic marks we have done ever since the human spirit has picked up pigment. It is satisfying visually – whatever that means – and has been for centuries and thousands of years if you go back to cave and rock art. I’m talking spirals, circles, dots, elliptical marks. Where do they come from?
I used visual process to work out my black spots. As my friend Cornelius went through his cancer, in those three weeks he spent in a flat in Hammersmith slipping ever more from this world – I painted him going towards the light. He got further and further away and as he did so I kept painting portals, tunnels, light, energy. I’m not sure I was even aware of it, truly.
Then Cornelius died, and I kept painting. I painted a series of portals – like yonis, like squares – something so satisfying about that shape – again, mystically speaking perhaps they are I suppose like meditative shapes, like the mandala. By the end of the year I was playing with collage and triptych. With my work you need to ask why does it please you, why is it satisfying? There’s something going on with the eye, the visual encounter, my spirit meeting the viewer. This last piece that I painted consciously mourning Cornelius was a triptych. It is abstract on one level but has entry points. There’s a lot of metallic paint – by association metal paint – gold and bronze pigment – is religious, and religion, it’s the church, it’s Byzantine, it’s icons. Lustre and gold is always God. The painting is contemplative. It is quiet but boom-booming at the same time. It has a presence.