Blun Blun Interview (May 2015)
For me art is emotion. As a small child, whenever I had a temper tantrum I was given cardboard to draw on and quickly got lost in expressing myself. I still keep old packets to this day. Art and the process of creation have always been therapeutic for me.
I returned to drawing and painting a few years ago when I lost the sight in my left eye. Much of what I now create is in reaction to that experience and the power of the subconscious. Channeling my inner world generally means that I have no idea what I am going to depict beforehand which makes every piece exciting.
I enjoy the work of many artists but am rarely influenced by their styles. What matters to me is my interior world and documenting that. I am, however, drawn to others who have been on a similar journey of exploration.
I love Goya's Black Paintings with their all-consuming visceral force and Picasso's exploration of his sexual identity. Colour, too, is critical. Blindness is the absence of colour and as a result I am drawn to bright pulsing emotional pigments. I love the work of Gabrielle Munter and Emil Nolde where their palettes sing. I'm also very excited by the personal symbolism of Paul Klee and the mythologies of Paula Rego.
Probably the strongest influence on me is my background in science. My scientific training taught me to describe everything, delve ever deeper to the cellular level and document the results. Everything is, however, secondary to allowing my subconscious free expression.
Recent & New Work
My latest work is dominated by colour and energy. I'm also exploring painting much more - especially in oils. I've been working on a series of portraits where I'm just as interested in capturing the idea of a person as pursuing a likeness. It's a challenge to balance the immediacy of drawing versus a more considered and time consuming painting. I have so many ideas in my head that I want to depict them immediately which is why drawing will always be important to me.
Fibre-tip pen & ink on acid-free paper. The body is both a physical entity and a construct of the mind. We have no proof of what we see other than how the image seen by our eyes is decoded by the brain. Maybe the world is a more colourful place than we imagine? We know from science all objects have a wavelength. When I sat down to draw this woman all I had in my mind was the idea of a woman sitting legs crossed. I use ink for its immediacy and clarity.
This gouache on acid-free paper came to me as an idea of escape and freedom. The figure was born first and the foreground evolved as the work evolved. I knew I wanted the colours to glow. The bird-like creature and the organic shapes are ones I find coming up again and again. I love the rich colour of gouache.
Fibre-tip pen & ink on acid-free paper. We think we know what our bodies look like but how does our brain understand them? How do they connect? After all a stubbed toe can become the most important thing in the world when it happen but accounts for only a tiny percentage of our body. This drawing came about in allowing my imagination fill in the outline of a body to understand how I might think about it.
Fibre-tip pen & ink on acid free paper. I found myself drawing the outline of a young woman one morning. At the same time it came to me that her head should be full of flowers. As I drew them I remember being on an ancient pathway in the West of Ireland and suddenly coming on a meadow full of orchids and wild flowers.
Ink on acid-free watercolour paper. This drawing came about after having spent the day in hospital and meeting with my medical consultant who had given me good news. As you can see an exhausted me is watching carefully from above as I tip back a chair in my rush to embrace the Professor.
Fibre-tip pen & ink on acid-free paper. This drawing evolved from super-imposing two profiles and then surrounding the figures with protective and gentle hands. Some of my personal symbols such as hands, heart and wings are central to the drawing. I feel very protective of this moment.
Oil on canvas. I have only recently begun to work in oils. I started with realism in order to learn the rules and then speak in my own words. This is a sketch I did after finishing a realistic portrait and noted that I had a palette full of paint left. I love the smear and immediacy of working wet-on-wet.
Ink on acid-free paper. This stretched character struggling home is both a story of the sadness of existence and the triumph of the spirit. He may struggle but he continues to force himself on. For me that is life.
Ink on acid-free paper. When the mood is with me I like doing simple drawings and this is one of them. Whether wisdom is knowledge or knowledge is wisdom is something you have to think about. I am particularly delighted with this work in that Belfast Central Library has used it in promotions.
Fibre-tip pen & ink on acid-free paper. This drawing is one on the theme of what it is to be a physical entity. How are we different to the environment that surrounds us? To understand who we are we need to know what we are. Again this is my subconscious interpretation.
Interview is online here.