Sometimes it’s good to be an outsider, on the outside looking in can inspire some great work. Working here in France as an outsider has pushed my work in directions not possible had I remained in the UK. People telling you that being discontent with your situation can be negative, but it takes you out of your comfort zone and to be honest what transpires can be surprising in a good way. It’s also something to do with not being satisfied with what you’re doing, always striving for more, basically not resting on your laurels.

Had I not moved to France I wouldn’t have been inspired to apply to do a course at the RCA, nor would I have felt the need to use an agent to promote my work – both had a huge impact on what I do, both media and subject. For somebody who is basically a landscape artist, I’ve come a long way.

But enough is enough. Would I go as far to say I’ve been fighting a losing battle? Well, most of what I do is in the UK, so it makes sense to be there. Networking on the internet is one way of working, but I’d like to work with real people in a studio, so that’s what I’ll be doing from September. I’m going to rent a studio in Oxford and also join the Oxford Printmakers – exciting times.

In the UK, people on the whole understand where I and my work are coming from – here it’s another story. There are many art worlds, I’m just looking forward to returning to the one I know and love. Of course it won’t be plain sailing – but every so many years you need to fuel your creativity in new and different ways and living in a happening city and working with other artists will be an inspiration.


The book is developing… final design is done, made a video to help promote it on RocketHub and started a Facebook page to keep friends updated with its progress and as a place to hold info that didn’t make it to the final version.

One problem I have been dealing with is how vague can the book be whilst giving enough information for the reader to get a gist of the context. So, the plans and maps have gone – information like that can be on a website, after all it’s not a history book – just an artist’s reaction to a particular place. There are many books and websites that give the details of that part of France’s history, but none that present it through my eyes and from my standpoint.

The video I’ve made reflects the feeling of the photos – made at night, the only light being a torch. I had Gregor Schneider’s claustrophobic installations in mind when I made it. No music, just the sound of my footsteps and some phrases taken from the Norbert Hertz interview. To describe the book I used subtitles, but for the RocketHub campaign I’m going to have to make it more personal and include myself in the video.

The RocketHub campaign is proving to be as much work as creating the book itself and I’m almost there – a fine line between whetting people’s appetite and giving too much away, which may result in nobody buying the book.

The book will be a limited edition which sadly pushes the printing costs up, but partly because I’m not sure of the demand for it. I aim to promote it to galleries and museums interested in the Holocaust and artists’ books. I’m spending the summer in New York, so shall take some with me to hopefully find some outlets.

I also plan to take the final version to the new director of the Rivesaltes Memorial, maybe he’ll be more interested in my project than the last director. Perhaps we could discuss translating it into French, but I’m not sure there is a big market for it here due to its controversial nature.

On this subject, I had an email from a German friend who is interested in my book he wrote this:

I’m not absolutely sure how I came to know about Rivesaltes. A German pupil is confronted quite intensely with the younger history of his nation. In fact, the most detailed time you learn about in history lessons is what we call the NS (National Socialist) time. As a result we have learned not to hide and ignore the facts, but to keep that part of our history in our minds. “Don’t forget” is more or less hammered into your head while at school. When at school you simply cannot avoid making a trip with your school to Bergen-Belsen, Buchenwald or Neuengamme. Of course, camps in other countries are also spoken of. Especially those in France. There’s one big one close to Lyon and there’s Rivesaltes.

It wouldn’t surprise me if there were more Germans aware of this place than French. I really like the French and I admire some of their way of living. I have to admit, though, that critically reflecting their own history and position is not on top of their list.