I was born in Newcastle Upon Tyne (UK) in 1954. My mother was Dutch and could draw well. Both of these facts are significant in terms of influences and experiences.
As a teenager my summer holidays were spent in the Dutch seaside town of Scheveningen (my mother’s birthplace). We would stay with my grandmother and visit relatives… uncles who painted everyday objects in the style of 17th century artists… an uncle who was a graphic designer. They had landscape and still life paintings on their walls.
Scheveningen is close to the Hague and Amsterdam, an easy train journey away. Both places have world famous art galleries that I visited with a Dutch cousin. To this day, my emotional and sensory experiences of seeing Vermeer’s Girl with a Pearl Earring and standing in front of Rembrandt’s The Night Watch has stayed with me throughout my life.
My art teacher at secondary school was a graduate of Newcastle University. He had been taught by Richard Hamilton (Pop Artist) and Victor Pasmore (Formal Abstraction). We went to exhibitions at the University’s Hatton Gallery to see exhibitions of work by Kurt Schwitters (Merz/Dada Art) and John Heartfield (Anti Nazi Montage/Collage Art).
All of these early experiences had a major impact on my career choice and still inform the artworks I make today.
My personal life has been enriched by the fact that I married my best friend, Caron – also an artist. We were married in 1980, have 2 sons, a graphic designer and carpenter and 2 grandchildren. We have lived in our money-pit dream home – a 15 century farmhouse – since 1987.
My work is an eclectic mix of approaches and subject matter with lots of autobiographical references. Much of the work might be described as ‘Art About Art’, multi-layered in construction and potential meaning.
Many of my artworks are made by importing original and sourced pictorial content into two kinds of image manipulating software, the composition is then constructed, developed and finessed digitally.
I often utilise elements taken from classic ‘Old Master’ paintings, re-presenting them in new contexts and relationships that frequently include autobiographical references. Notions of time travel and the capturing of dreams all add to the mix of subject matter… a kind of envisioning of what might have happened in an alternate reality.
By fusing history, memory and nostalgia, I work with the iconic and the cultural, merging them to create new narratives. I quote from the art of the past so as to reinterpret a way of seeing and thinking that I associate with artists as disparate as Vermeer, Velasquez, Ingres, Manet, Duchamp and Richard Hamilton etc.
My artworks are, in part, referential in their intent rather than simply appropriated or copied from masterworks. My imitation is a sincere form of flattery. In addition to explicit references, some may find humour in my alterations. By leaving out familiar elements or by adding new elements to known works, or reconfiguring components within them, much of my work is a visual commentary on aspects of the history of art.
Viewers often recognise ‘familiar’ elements in my re-imagined compositions. However, seeing them in unexpected and surprising compositions can lead to a reassessment of the original… and a ‘smile in the mind’ in witnessing the new.
All of my artworks have the potential to be produced on a very large scale.
Rembrandt van Rijn, Jan Vermeer, Frans Hals, Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio, Diego Velasquez, George Stubbs, Théodore Gericault, Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres, Eugène Delacroix, Georges Seurat, Pablo Picasso, Kurt Schwitters, Marcel Duchamp, Andrew Wyeth, Victor Pasmore, Jim Dine, Larry Rivers, Richard Hamilton, Peter Blake, George Deem.