My life as a painter began in my teens. Our home was filled with our Aunt’s paintings, mainly of Yorkshire landscapes, and of flowers. Mum and dad took us on one trip to London, and this was my first visit to the National Gallery. It made Glasgow’s Kelvingrove Gallery feel so small, and yet there were treasures to be found there like Dali’s Christ of Saint John of the Cross (1951). Glasgow was also the home of the Third Eye Centre, and their exhibitions in the late 70’s and early 80’s made their impact on my. My “unofficial” training continued at Durham’s Light Infantry Museum which regularly hosted touring Art’s Council shows. In Cambridge, the Fitzwilliam Museum continued to fashion my eye, along with the wonderful Kettle’s Yard, on Castle Hill, the home of Jim Ede bequeathed to the University on his death. Filled with St Ives artists, it was here that I discovered the work of Gaudier Brzeska.
Image above: Portrait. Diptych. Oil on canvas. (1997-98).
Moving to Paris was an enormously powerful shock. Whilst it is obviously a haven for all kinds of Impressionism, I was more interested to get season-passes for both the Louvre, and for Beaubourg. These passes – also enabling me to take our children to see art for themselves – enabled that absolute delight of being able to delight in the Mesopotamian and Egyptian collections, along with a vast array of Flemish and Northern art from the 14th and 15th centuries. Beaubourg hosted so many exhibitions of contemporary art, I was simply so fortunate to be able to see so much. The Beuys retrospective of 1994 was immensely powerful and radically shook me. Later, there would be a magnificent retrospective of Louise Bourgeois. Other key moments were, of course, seeing paintings by Anselm Kiefer, whose gallery was just across the street from Beaubourg. And finally, of my Paris years, my encounter with the work of Cy Twombly. I realize in writing this that I have seen a quantity of art in my life, and been blessed to have been able to return again and again. As I have grown older, the effects of strong Italian Renaissance influences of my youth have faded, leaving me with the sunlit beauty of Turner, and his twentieth-century counterpart, Cy Twombly, who continue to inspire both love and devotion.