In June 2016, I abandoned all source and reference materials as a basis for visual work. I’ve described it as a “post-Brexit Referendum Thing”, but who knows? A painting residency in Florida in early 2017 pushed this direction much further: I began working non-objectively on a larger scale, entirely from instinct and in a surface-responsive way without any idea at any stage where the work was going. Approaching a huge surface with no ideas in the head, no plan, was scary but exhilarating.
Working like this was not something I ever expected to do. Conceptualising issues through visual work has always been important for me. But letting go of the thinking and analysis allowed me at least to make work in the post-referendum nightmare world even if I couldn’t explain the resulting imagery to myself.
Better still, it led to a “freeing up” of surface marks and form I’d long sought. Surrendering to process rather than trying is the solution (as all artists know), but it’s extraordinarily difficult for me when resolving figurative work.
Now over the next five weeks I get chance to explore what happens when I work with the embedded experience of the last six months. In this residency, I may (though nothing is ever certain) renew my search for the figurative form as a reflection of my powerlessness in a discomfiting world.