My paintings are derived from photographs of landscape sites to which I have a strong aesthetic response and depict landscape in both an untouched, natural state as well as constructed park sites. Using detailed geological maps, I go to great lengths to obtain my subject matter, hiking deep into the wilderness following rivers and streams. I am largely interested in landscape as a potentially non-narrative motif. My focus is on painting representations of the fragmented, almost pixelated surface of water for its formal and aesthetic qualities. I am particularly interested in the play of light and colour, the tension created by the compression of near and far space, and the use of an overall picture plane wher no one area is pictorially more important than another. In these paintings I am finding ways of linking representational landscape paintings to formal aesthetic strategies, in particular non-hierarchal conceptions of overall space that are present in non-objective painters such as Mark Toby.
As a painter of nature and landscape, I have also researched, developed and completed a series of paintings conveying how urban cultures manifest themselves in the design of urban public sites, parks, and gardens. I am interested in the physical form of the urban park as an aesthetic subject matter and I am intrigued by the possibilities it presents for visual interpretation and narrative. This series of paintings explores how landscape architects from the past and present define their vision of our place and role in nature. These parks become a visual testament to an evolution in thinking which reflects the philosophy of the time and the changing attitude to landscape. Nature is controlled, confined, recreated, carefully plotted and carved out in these parks, resulting in a depiction of urban culture and the aesthetic of an idealized landscape. It is in this rich articulation of space, this dialogue between culture and nature in which nature is architecturally constructed, that I find such complex material to interpret and paint.
One of my areas of research for painting is scuba diving and underwater photography. Underwater photography, which I use to record the fleeting impressions of the dive has always surprised me in its unexpectedly sensuous richness, its visual complexity and its depth of meaning. The photographs provide both a visual record of the dive and a reminder of other experiences rooted in memory and the body. The photographs, while being representations of the dive site, function not only as a visual record but also as reminders of temperature, sensation, and the experience of witnessing and moving physically through space of the subject matter. The dive inspires the work. The paintings derived form the photographs, therefore, are not copies of the photograph but, like the water paintings, are an interaction between artistic expression and observation. During the dives, I am a participant in the experience and observation of nature. Artistic research is done during the event through both personal experience and documentation. The paintings are based as much on the sensory, ephemeral, and experiential information derived from the experience itself, as on the mediated content of the photograph.