Over the past few years, the natural world has been a central point of focus in my work. Animals and birds specifically are messengers, healers and protagonists within the narrative structure of my paintings. I feel closely connected to forms of Shamanism, where a channel is opened between the human world and the world of animals.
The process of my work is an interesting one. Although I have a feel for what I am trying to create, it is very much a case of harnessing the natural forces. My initial drawings are very often undetermined objects that shift and change shape until I begin to understand what the message is that I am receiving. At this point, a key animal will appear and take the lead. This will be one of my ‘trinity’: the fox the hare or the owl (often white). Once the animal or bird has taken the lead, it will engender the possibility of including a mortal or god, sometimes a Hindu or Celtic deity. At which point, the tone of the painting will crystallise. This process can take a considerable time, sometimes months, but when it does, I begin to see in colour and feel the time of day where the story is taking place.
The inexhaustible wonders of nature mean that my subjects are never too far away. Everything that happens in my studio is a direct response to the life outside of it, whether it is birds and foxes teeming in my garden, or my travel to the wild expanses of Scotland, Ireland or Iceland. Recently a larger spectrum of British garden birds have been making their presence felt, providing the perfect backdrop to so much of my latest work.
I draw inspiration from many sources. Folk stories, songs and myths also have a huge influence in creating a contextual framework around the more mutable elements within the process of creating a painting.
But, there is no greater stimulant for me than the need to listen to and nurture the natural world. An animal or bird is adorned with so many more meanings than I bring to its ancient shape – it becomes a cypher once it has left my hands and alchemically, I would hope, opens an emotional frequency in each individual viewer.