For many years I have faced a dilemma, how could I express my passion for the natural environment without resorting to the clichés that I find are common within most landscape painting and drawing: how could I stretch my own skills whilst enhancing my knowledge of the visual nature of the land, the land that we all depend on so totally and from which many of us take such enjoyment.
I then remembered my early days at Art School and the many hours and days spent in life drawing classes. Our tutors kept banging on about the idea that one could not possibly draw human or animal forms without understanding the structure that lay beneath the body we see, the skeleton, the muscle structure along with the movement of the body. It then became obvious that to understand the landscape I needed to know more about how it works; its structure, how it was formed and how others interpret it.
Having little knowledge of geology I thought that I might start by looking at the way that the landscape is mapped before going into other ways that our environment is portrayed.
On researching mapping systems I became fascinated by the way that mapping has developed, how for many centuries maps were drawn in a similar manner to the way that paintings had been done; the more important something was, the larger it was portrayed. It was also obvious that the ancient map makers did not restrict themselves to earthly matters but considered the heavens as an integral part of things.
A mass of ideas and connections were now unfolding, from the concepts of the ancients about our planet and its place in the cosmos through to current thinking on the universe, time, big bang theories, speed of light, chaos; all a plethora of ideas with a strong visual heritage. Observed Landscape.
As a portrait painter's study of anatomy gives an understanding of the subject as well as an increased freedom to express reflections on the sitter, my preliminary analysis of mapping has informed my approach to the shape and form of the land.
It has also been the drive behind many of the ideas for other series of work.