My work looks as it does not because of a choice I have made, it is what I am naturally drawn to.
While I was studying at the University of Wolverhampton one of the many modules was to paint and draw in the streets and in public space, in the ‘plein air’ style. En plein air (French pronunciation), or plein air painting, is a phrase borrowed from the French equivalent meaning ‘open, in full air’.
I enjoyed the challenge and I became reasonably competent at it. However, painting plein air style can be time-consuming and would not work with the ideas l had in mind. It also felt too contrived for me and I wasn’t drawn towards working that way like I was towards photography.
I studied photography at Illinois State University in the US and at Wolverhampton University. When I left university I know that photography was something I wanted to continue. I was drawn and attracted to using photography as it was something l seemed to have a natural talent for. When l started walking the streets with a camera, l was originally looking for a way to use the camera as a sketchbook. I don’t remember when I came across Henri Cartier-Bresson’s photography but it must have around the same time because it has had a profound effect on my work. I believe that l visited the 1998 National Portrait Gallery exhibition in London where Henri’s work was on show. Photography in Henri Cartier-Bresson’s eyes was; “a means of capturing what he famously called the ‘decisive moment’ when the balance of a composition or the look on a face said something special about time, place and the world we live in.”
I realised it was a way for me to capture an ephemeral moment of time that says something significant. I didn’t know what that significant thing was when I started but I realised this could be the beginning of by practice as a painter. The exploration of what is significant in these fleeting moments could possibly be uncovered in a lifetimes work as a painter.
Over time I now understand a little more that I am naturally drawn to painting the relationship between the individual and the city. Making and defining images that are important to everyone and that are significant in terms of human beings by using our great human perception.