My work has long explored an enduring fascination with the role of flowers and plants within culture. The human impulse to gather small, fragile treasures from nature and offer them up to each other, ourselves or a greater god is something that has endured through millennia and across cultural and geographic divides. That simple and incredibly moving act of intimacy with nature is really a desire to capture the fleeting, halt time and find connection between ourselves and the infinite.
These paintings look specifically at this gesture as both an intimate and sacred act. What impulse drives me to pluck three small flowers and a shell and marvel at their soft decline into decay on the bedside table? The boudoir, the windowsill, the grotto, the alter, a flower tucked behind the ear on a long summer walk or tucked in against the skin in the folds of a blouse…. simultaneously they offer portals into intimate spaces, of the Feminine and the interior. Soft skin, sheer drapery, a glimpse of garden through window drapery, a mole on pink flesh, and the fecundity of flowers springing from the earth and carefully gathered on a windowsill. A letter from a lover, a room of her own.
Inspiration for these works draws from the Renaissance Italian masters Sandro Botticelli, Piero Della Francesca and Filippo Lippi, the geometry underlying their compositions, the burnished colours, their clarity of light and palette. A friend said some years ago that my paintings are reminiscent of ultra-zoom views of the foregrounds of master paintings, with their tangled grasses and seasonal plants and flowers. He was specifically nodding towards the Pre-Raphaelite painters and since then I have found myself peering at paintings in various museums, drawn to those bottom few centimetres of foreground so rich in detail and symbolism, glowing quietly beneath the active goings-on of the main composition above.
Travel has formed an important part of research and inspiration since 2017, with visits to Italy, France, and the UK providing a gathering ground for palette and texture and sensorial experience: the mottled pink plaster surface of a Florentine fresco, the warm rust of Tuscan soil glowing in a midsummer sunset, a 17th century textile fragment in a Parisian museum, the dawn chorus shimmering green through an upstairs casement …. Sources of inspiration are diverse memory fragments that are undeniably grounded in the melancholic nostalgia for fleeting moments of sensory pleasure. It is these unrepeatable and emotive passages of time that I am always striving to find and capture within the layers of paint: Light, intimacy, texture, longing.
Image: Bedside Vigil 2023, oil on linen, 138 x 123 cm