This statement Blueberry Situation is Difficult is the English translation from the Chinese name of a dish on a restaurant menu in Beijing. At first these words seem humorous, then baffling, mysterious and ultimately richly poetic. This illustrates very well how I feel about my times in China. Since 2012 I have produced a number of sketchbooks with many ideas for China- based works and have worked almost exclusively with China as my subject since then.
I have a propensity to visit the Dark Side in my works and the subject of China has generally lightened my vision. The range of subject matter I have used is vast and extremely varied ranging from the humorous and absurd to the serious and dark. I was overwhelmed by the bicycles and the adaptations that had been made to carry incredible loads, the richly visual and superb tasting foods, The Great Wall, The Terracotta Warriors and the extraordinary Hall of Clocks within the Forbidden City. My works are always responses to my subject matter and are not intended to illustrate it or to be taken too literally but are a personal reflection of my Time and Place.
Although primarily known as a painter, since the 1970’s I have had a diverse practice encompassing multi-media; often engaging in painting, sculpture, drawing and installation in tandem, each process feeding the other.
I consider myself an ‘ideas’ person on the one side and on the other a dedicated painter who is passionate about painting but who also loves to experiment with materials.
As well as paintings in more traditional media I have made a set of sculptural objects in jars which continue on from many previous works made and shown in sets presented in Bell-Jars. This time the series has been drawn from the Beijing Natural History Museum’s collection of specimens of babies in jars. The other sculptural pieces Hall of Clocks are part of a much larger installation inspired by the clocks in the Hall of Clocks within the Forbidden City. The Artist Book Village is a collection of imagery sourced from the local village environment of the Redgate Studio where I was a Resident in 2014.
For the works in Hall of Clocks I sourced my materials mainly from second-hand shops, in this instance preferring to manipulate and represent non-art materials as the unpredictable sculptural underpinning of the artworks.
For me this dialogue with China has been both visual and visceral and there is so much more to paint and to make!