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 21/03/2020
Road to the Cevennes
At this time of the year I begin to dwell on a voyage and a route that I’ve travelled repeatedly for over forty years. The ‘Road to the Cevennes’ is a poignant reminder of a journey I was hoping to make again in the near future, but as with so many others the prospect of any travel, remains for the moment a mirage, an imagined oasis in the desert. So, I have placed this painting on my wall in order to have a tantalising glimpse of what the future may hold, if not this year, then next.
The road in the painting is the D999 that traverses from east to west into the bastion of the Cevennes mountains and deep valleys from Nîmes to Le Vigan. It is a road I have known and loved for over forty years. Memories from the 70s and 80s, careering along this highway with Gerald, who like Toad of Toad Hall couldn’t bear to be overtaken by other drivers, recklessly driving a DS Citroen Safari stuffed with rejected furniture from London. Gerald’s half stretched canvases and leaky pots of acrylic paint rattled in the back; myself crammed up against the dashboard in a contorted position that would get me immediately arrested today.
These days I travel with Steve in our Subaru in relative comfort, canvases and oil paints safely packed with precision, yet with the same sense of excited anticipation begins as the blue mountains loom larger and we speed through the transit towns: St. Hypolite, Quissac, Ganges. Many people feel that the D986 the southerly route from Montpellier to Ganges, is both more dramatic and attractive with Pic St. Loup veering sharply into the sky and striations of vines lining the shallow slops of the Garrigue, but for me the D999 has no comparison as it is a more gradual immersion.
In 2017 this painting was in a solo show called Les Chemin des Rêves (The Path of Dreams) at a local gallery and I was inspired by the painting when I titled the exhibition. The locals had heated discussions on exactly which point of the road the mountains were viewed from. I couldn’t tell you at this minute but it will be immediately recognisable to me when we do eventually pass through.
My greatest regret is that we can’t introduce Charlie to the Cevennes whilst he is still very young as I was when I first visited. Charlie is a Springer Spaniel puppy who is making sure we have no opportunity to grow old gracefully. Unfortunately like so many of us he will have to wait and dream of futures delightful pleasures such as rooting round under Chestnut trees, trampling on oregano and thyme, running free along the crests of the Causse and maybe even a twilight encounter with a wild boar, a meeting likely to end in a frightened fit of yelping and dashing back to hide behind Steve’s legs. Charlie ain’t no hero!