My work is in mixed media painting in oil and acrylic paint, some screen-printing and drawing in inks and masking fluid on board and canvas. The present artwork can be loosely covered by the themes: motifs inspired by walks around the countryside and travel and journeys re-imaged from a symbolic and personal standpoint.
The imagery can be divided into two categories, traditional easel painting and images within paintings. In the latter, representations of landscapes are inset within tarnished gold grounds. I developed this as a device during the first lockdown as way of holding a memory or motif on an imagined gallery wall. I really missed visiting exhibitions and art galleries and for me this device is symbolic and evocative of the old Ashmolean Museum galleries walls.
My starting points are varied, sometimes beginning with images from a stockpile of stored photos, or from an imagined memory of a place or journey or by freely exploring media exploring colour, gesture and composition.
Though most of my work is figurative pieces often begin life as loosely imagined painterly marks and are birthed in abstraction and accident. In this way I enjoy working with process, juggling layers, edges, gestures and recalcitrant forms. A friend last year upon enquiring about by new work asked, “Martin, do you still start your paintings with lots of blobs of paint?” In addition to this loose modus operandi the print maker in me also enjoys the planning and the control of screen-printing and I am happy to start with this print form to later deconstruct this or even obliterate it totally. The archipelago painting for example of a dark seascape began life as an aerial view of buildings. The fun bit is as the work develops, I try to formulate the potential for success within a struggle between what I want and the reality of the media and materials. I usually have several pieces in hibernation or on the go at any time, awaiting a moment of intuition, serendipity, or not.
In 2018, Morag and I took the opportunity to leave our roles in art education with the aim of travelling, developing our studio practice and having fun. During much of 2018 and 2019 we travelled to China and several times to the USA for extended stays. But early on I found my visits to the studio less productive, rather lumpy and self-conscious at first. Lockdown in 2020 perversely concentrated my mind away from procrastinating over fluffy pretensions and rather on producing work instead of a more concrete and personal nature.
We work alongside each other in the same studio space. Morag works in a completely different way to me, which makes for a nourishing, stimulating and eclectic atmosphere. It would be great to have more room so that we could work on larger scale, though we are very thankful and fortunate to be where we are and who we are with.