Brightwell Village Hall Artists is a group of seven artists all with a different take on painting, from oils to batik, and landscapes to portrait and life and the far-flung shores of India.
My work in this exhibition comprises several batiks from my travels in India, a country I keep returning to, and others inspired by my love of beautiful, dilapidated buildings or structures like seaside piers. You could call it “Beauty in Decay”.
The exciting thing about batik for me is that I never have complete control because more often than not the technique takes over and gives my painting that certain something you can’t achieve with paint. It may be the unpredictable spidery lines of the crackling, or the fact that the wax and dye on paper give you a sort of abstract effect – which is perfect for me because I don’t do perfect!
If you’re not familiar with batik, it is a resist technique of painting. I paint a pattern of hot wax onto my paper (or fabric) using a special spouted tool, and then paint dye over the surface. The design can be pure pattern, or it can be a complete painting built up from 10 or so layers of wax and dyes.
I’ve been batiking for nearly 40 years, and I paint what inspires me, which is basically imperfect images of beautifully dilapidated buildings like those I search out on my travels in India, and structures like seaside piers which I find closer to home.
India has a special place in my heart, I have been five times, travelling to some of the best known tourist locations but also the lesser known, quirky hill stations which were the retreats of the British Raj – these bustling, vibrant, sprawling towns are packed full of all the people, colours, noises, smells and exotic buildings of India, but also little half-timbered cottages that would be at home in Eastbourne or Brighton. It’s not always hectic, sometimes it is purely spiritual, like the Ganges at dawn. I take hundreds of photographs, as I never have the time to sit and sketch, and I have so many which are still waiting to be turned into a batik – they will keep me occupied for years.