Church & States…

Church of St. Basil, Toller Fratrum, Dorset

Sometimes images just beg to be the beginnings of a painting and this conjunction of the fragment of the Magdelene set into the wall with the shelf and plate above at the Church of St. Basil in the tiny hamlet of Toller Fratrum in Dorset is certainly one such for me. Of course the final painting may turn out nowt like its origins as plainly explained by the sadly departed Thomas Nozkowski in this interview. And yes before you ask we have been gallivanting again…courtesy of our pals Allan & Moira…to the Jurassic Coast, a favourite nowadays. We were following in the footsteps of John Piper, as eloquently explained in Alexandra Harris’ book Romantic Moderns, an artist I’ve come to admire more and more as I get older.

Pocket Geo no.2

The trips away more often than not galvanise me into action on my return and on this occasion it got me moving on a resolution of yet another of my box sets. I’d quite some time ago prepped another set – one to sit between the Baby Geos and the Festive Geos as regards their size. But until today I’d not found either a title for them or indeed completed any to my satisfaction. Now hooray I have six made – and the Pocket Geos are ready to go! They are just the thing for fiddling with at the kitchen table under the daylight lamp in the early hours through winter.

Its funny…


how things collide in your head during this isolation (I’m still too frit to properly venture out) especially as contacts with others is confined.  So just as I begin sorting out the next substantial project – based on Alexandra Harris’ Weatherland – I find its concerns reverberating  in my thinking with Chapter Three of Jeff Young’s Ghost Town.  I’d spent a good deal of a day sifting  through the former arranging a series of quotations by others that Harris had used to be the framework on which my series will hang.  Literally insofar as they are ranged around the perimeter of the canvases I’m intending.  And then this very morning I find Jeff musing on the importance of weather…”The weather is memory and memory is the weather. It seeps into this place, becomes layered into it. The meteorology of memory.”  And whilst I had been attracted to a brief passage from the introduction to Weatherland as the title of my sequence “I have tried to hang a mirror in the sky” my wife pointed out its connection to a title I have used before ‘Nothing But Mirrors And Tides’ (that stolen from Anne Michaels wonderful Fugitive Pieces for a solo show at Derby Museum nearly two decades back) and I’d already thought it perhaps overlong.  And now – glory be – it seems that not only have I a marvellous title ‘The Meteorology Of Memory’ but those few words also crystallise the core of my thinking behind these paintings.  

Because unlike the three series that comprised the reflections on Schama’s Landscape & Memory (Waldgeschichten, L’Histoire de L’Eau and Rock Of Ages) where the impulses for the form of each work preceded and then ran alongside the textual content here I have zoomed in on the texts (setting them in a framework of the months of the year) and hope to evoke memories, form, colours and reflections of each month as it unfolds.  At least in the conception of the work as a whole because, unlike my normal way of working, I intend to make a sketch or cartoon (if you wish!) for each painting before making the full size work.  Within this sits another secret source of imagery drawn both from my own reservoir of images and ones stolen from other observers of the world around them…something that has become so easy since the advent of the digital when everyone is a photographer of some (albeit) occasional distinction.

Borglum’s Escape, Mixed media on paper, 106 x 94 cm. 2019                     from Rock Of Ages