Much of my focus in this blog and with my time over the past twelve months is on my painting activity. But I have always found some space for the inclusion of photography in some of my working practice. When I was younger I kept this pretty much on the back burner, and although at various times with increasing frequency through the 1990’s I brought it into my painting practice in a number of differing ways, it was only after I returned to education and acquired my MA (in 2009) that I have used it very directly. Even now it surfaces less frequently than it might had I more hours in the day! I guess for me it is a way of rendering things I want to say about direct observation that I can’t, or just haven’t yet found to, say with the paintings…and in some cases it relates painterly activity to the indexical properties of the photograph. Quite often it is (in my mind at least) a ‘legitimate’ way of bringing a very particular narrative into a work in a way that I would find clumsy and arcane if translated into purely abstract terms.
A good case in point is the piece below (and the work on the right in the show above) – this is an extensively reworked composite image of the terrain around my friend’s property in the Lunigiana region of Italy. I have tried to make paintings that relate to this environment without success over the years (I’ve been going to the location since the late 1980’s) but somehow the ‘translation’ of my thoughts, feelings and notions of the place has never found a good ‘fit’ with my paintings interests at the time. I also wanted to bring the visual image that I had manufactured (an aspect of digital practice that I used extensively between 1999 and 2010) into conjunction with a fragment of text that, again, I couldn’t see it working with completely painterly means.
One of the attractions of using photography is to try and push it back in the direction of painting…of course there are endless ways of doing this but one that I enjoy greatly is the combination of the blurred image and the heavy inking of the inkjet image on a good paper (Hahnemuehle German Etching is a favourite of mine). I used it way back in the early’ digital days for this work that was one of the first entirely photographic pieces I exhibited publicly .