Visiting friends is lovely but visiting friends who’ve bought work is even nicer!  And work takes on another life when seen in a different environment from either studio or gallery.  Especially when it’s a piece on paper exquisitely framed. So it is with Pan Tadeusz here in my pals, Moira & Allan, living room in Dorset.  Pan is one of the Waldgeschichten, the Forest Stories, part one of the three parts that make up Landscape & Memory.  This project is now finally coming to its conclusion, the fourteenth of the eighteen works making up third part Rock of Ages just now resolved to my satisfaction, and joining the other fifty with only four to go.  Given that the early stages of the whole scheme started back in 2014, it’s only been five years in gestation.  That might seem an inordinate amount of time but given my dithering and distraction I reckon half a decade ain’t too bad!

Stephens Climbing Account
Stephen’s Climbing Account, 106 x 93.6 cm., mixed media on paper,July 2019


Scaling down ambitions…

2016-01-01 12.56.35

Yesterday I starting thinking about woodland again…or rather I began with forests.  My first impulse was to reread the Wood section of Landscape & Memory, that I first encountered on my Masters course in Photography and that begins with a visit to Białowieża Forest where Schama discusses the Lithuanian Bison.  Google tells me that from landfall at the Hook of Holland I can drive there in under fourteen hours…so naturally on this first day of 2016 it seems a breeze!  However practicalities soon crowd in and I set my immediate sights on a ‘forest’ nearer to home…so much so that I can see home (more or less) from one of its better known vantage points.  We are nestling somewhere to the left of those cooling towers you can (just) see in the far distance above.

2016-01-01 12.56.56

Ok so its not quite the ancient forest that Bialowieza is but a remnant of, except that in a way its maybe even older…after all the Charnwood Forest rocks are 600 million years old and the habitation of them (and the accompanying acculturation) is around maybe 5 or 6 thousand years (or one hundredth thousand of that time!).

2016-01-01 13.50.41

Anyway my interest as a painter is in the spirit or ambience of the place and, here and there, the woodland closes in to give at least a momentary sense of what such places must have felt like many hundreds and thousands of years back.  Although I’m sure that in the picture above there are invasive species lurking as is often the case in the UK.

2016-01-01 13.50.58

Whichever way I cut it….a good three hours strolling around my local forest is probably better for me and the planet than a fourteen hour drive across Northern Europe!


Who knows where?

2015-12-31 14.38.04

As 2015 rapidly disappears (in a ‘orrible’ storm just now) rather than look back I thought I ought to put something up here that might be part of what may be to come…though who knows where things go when you are simply playing around with what’s to hand.  Courtesy of a print order cock up at my place of occasional employment I have a lot of large sheets of good cartridge paper at a decent size (42 x 37 inches) and as part of the massive ongoing studying of plan chests a lot of torn sheets of doomed works on paper.  So of late I’ve been throwing them together and alongside the mindless creative functioning (that I’ve always employed in my practice) starting thinking about woods and forests.  Can’t say its going anywhere quite yet but it keeps me busy and away from feeling maudlin that seems to happen to me regularly as one year turns to the next.  Whether you love or loathe the New Year’s Eve if you’re a reader of this twaddle of mine let me wish you all the very best for 2016.