My work reflects my emotional response to memories of walking out on the surrounding moors of my childhood home.
I grew up in Rochdale, a cotton mill town which sits on the foothills of the Pennines. The Pennines are known as the “backbone of England” and stretch from the Derbyshire Peak District, across the Yorkshire Dales and up to the Scottish Border. They are made up of vast areas of peat where only coarse grasses and heather grow.
The moors provided escape from the industrial urban environment. I would walk up onto the moors for hours. I remember the feeling of being at a high elevation, and looking back at the town, or beyond across the stark, bleak and desolate moorland. Given the northern climate, walks in the winter months would mean dusk arrived around 3:00pm and the light sat low in the horizon. I remember the ever present wind, heavy with moisture against my face, as I looked out at an endless landscape which often vanished into mist.
Our past is not in our voluntary memory, or in the recall of facts. Much of our past is hidden beyond our reach until something elicits that memory. Often a material object, a scent, a taste, can reveal that memory to us along with the emotions evoked by that past experience.
As I work the surface of a painting, a shift in value, or line elicits a memory, an image and it is the emotions associated with that memory that are conveyed into the landscape I am painting. The memories are revealed through the manipulation of materials. I enjoy the consistency of oil paint which I work across the canvas with my hands. I brush, scrape and burnish the surface revealing line, value and form. For my works on paper I use oil pastel and oil stick, in which I scrape and etch linear forms. Applying watercolor washes creates interesting effects of color and texture. Onto a prepared ground of graphite powder I create gesture marks. I further articulate these gestural forms as sculptural elements made from wire.
From this process of mark making evolves the gestural forms which become the structure for my landscape. The tactile nature of the surface, my use of color and the articulation of the gesture are all in response to the recall of emotions.
My creative process is inspired by recalling the emotions I felt during those walks, the sense of freedom and exhilaration, and I translate that emotion and energy into my work.