Walking in the landscape at night as a teenager in Scotland, during the summer months in pursuit of salmon and trout. Experiencing the transformation of the familiar path by the river, walked by day then changed out of all recognition by night. This I am sure is at the heart of my decision to make work at night and also to make work that is created by walking through rather than gazing on the land.
When making the night work I feel this contradictory and poetic effect of being more isolated and at the same time more connected with the land. Caused, I think, by the literal blurring of where the self begins and the land ends, an experience which is, I hope, communicated to the viewer.
The core of the work on show was made at Frenchman’s Creek in Cornwall in the first half of 2011.
‘Sycamore … common everywhere, an ancient introduction’ *
Black Trees were painted between 1977 and 1983, a six year period when I was living on my parent’s farm helping to look after my mother. In the evenings I was free to walk out along the lanes.
In the night the sycamore trees, already high up on the ridges of the roadside banks, seemed to have doubled in size. The hollows of the trees, the branches, and the spaces within and around, stood out in contrast: thick complicated foliage flattened out into simple silhouetted shapes.
With growing familiarity I attributed a sort of personality to each tree. At the time I called the paintings portraits of trees. They were worked and reworked many times until I got what I wanted which was a balance (more a tight-rope walk) between rage and tranquility.