The excitement for me as an artist lies not in exploring the unknown but in how I can effectively organise a visual arrangement that reflects the atmosphere and intensity of an environment, evoking a precise moment of the day under specific light and conditions. I hope you enjoy the work

Feature of the week  16/09/2018

After the Hurricane

Like many others of my generation, I watched Michael Fish, BBC Weather anchor man, reassuring Southern England on October 15 1987, that reports of an impending hurricane were a false alarm and that there was no need to worry. After a pleasant evening and a few glasses of wine with friends, I slept soundly that night until awakened by a phone call at 7 amcancelling an art school modelling session. I had been booked for later in the day at the Architectural Association, Central London. Bemused I asked why and then I was advised to take a look out of the window.

 

As I drew the curtains apart I was horrified to view the devastation that had been wreaked on trees across the road; the rear sheds that had lost roofs and corrugated fences that were

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leaning over almost touching the pavement. I was most upset by the damage wrought on the trees.One victim was a rare specimen, the name of which I forget, situated at the end of our street. It can be viewed in ‘Condemned House’, one of the early weekly features.  If you are knowledgable about trees, you might like to have a look at it and let me know it's name. Given that 50 million trees were destroyed that night in England and France, it is remarkable that more people were not badly injured. In fact 22 people lost their lives.

 

Following this remarkable event, a week or so later I walked about looking for subjects to paint, wandering down the canal, through the park, along Narrow Street and onto the Highway. By now it was growing dark as the daylight hours became shorter. During the cold, early evening a pinkish glow spread across the sky as the sun dropped low on the horizon. A fallen tree on its side came into view as I wandered through King Edward Seventh Park just off the Highway. Recent rain had caused puddles to form reflective patches on the ground, creating ghostly echoes of the trees branches which had been amputated like stricken limbs. It seemed to epitomise the devastation wrought by the great storm a few days before now seen in the raw chill of evening.

 

When I returned not long after during the day to make observational studies, half the tree had gone and the rest was neatly sawn into huge logs waiting to be taken away, perhaps to be transformed into items of furniture. Therefore I had to rely on my initial quick sketches scribbled in the dark and photos. The scene of the painting required a variation of interacting dark tonal passages in order to capture the impact I had first felt.

 

Since my school days I have avoided any black straight from the tube. In 1987 I was using a mix of dark blues and umbers to produce a rich opaque black. Today I look at the painting and remember a chilly, cold damp night long ago stumbling across the fallen trunk that symbolised the damage that catastrophes, be they natural or man made cause.