Artist Statements

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Artist’s Statement 1988

Increasingly I became aware that my paintings had no bearing on the darker aspects of my life which threatened to overwhelm me. I turned to the psychology of art to see if this could throw any light on the problem. Before long I came across the idea of art as a form of exorcism and the theory that the cave paintings of early man were painted to gain control over the animals portrayed. From this, albeit hypothetical ground, I saw that painting about my inner upheavals was perhaps to gain some measure of control over them.

Additionally I was drawn to the art work of psychotic patients. Those illustrations which I could find seemed to me to have a power to move far beyond that expected of the patient as artist. Here I saw art stripped of all esoteric and conceptual pretensions. I gladly adopted this approach which seemed more vital than any current “Ism”. I found myself on an interior journey in which landscape and subject were subsumed to inner vision. This lead to the large bondaged heads which, I hope, stand as an image of schizophrenia.

Not all my work is directly concerned with my illness but tends towards a reconciliation to life. Dreams provide a rich source of material offering a gateway into a whole world of ideas and images denied to the conscious mind. They work as a form of condensed visual poetry from which I select and make visible those which best describe universal experiences.

Artist’s Statement 1991

Colour’s came to be Van Gogh’s new love.
Flaming red, joyful yellow, the purity of blue,
Serene green, disturbing purple, brown and orange too.
They came to be like the wife and children he never knew.
From the torture chamber of his insanity
He scratched out in paint his essential humanity.
His technique came to have meaning
Where most of the time
It only seemed to show incompetence
And lack of finer feeling.
A really unequivocal painting for me
Would be to take the wall of a condemned cell
Where the scratch marks betray it once held
The victims of tyranny and frame it.
A big painting, as it is important enough,
And hope for it to be displayed
In some major gallery.
Put on one side a painting by Van Gogh
And on the other a painting by me
Because after all
We are all victims of insanity.

It is like everybody knows the secret
But nobody,no, nobody will tell you
Because if they keep the secret they can
Go on treating you as less than a man.
I dreamed the landlord had taken the door away
And still I had to pay and pay.
From a needle they give you lead shoes
Keep quiet about the secret and then they say “you’ll do.”
The anger grows, the depression and the fear
I try to paint just one single tear drop to wash it all away
Most of the time I don’t even come near
Yet like some kind of seer;
Beauty from rust, diamonds from decay, penicillin from wounds,
The only answer to madness I know
See the stars through the scars.
From schizophrenia and the total humilaition
It brings I try to wring
Images of soul salvation.2015-04-21 002 008 (640x639)
Seems to me they can take everything from me
Except my art and faithful beauty.
My technique is stripped to the bone
The better to resemble the technique
Of images produced in the irenic surrender of sleep.

Painting is pain with a tea
And music such sweet sympathy.