My current practise is centred on a fictional world of the future and in particular a town called Sphereseville. This town is located at the base of what is currently called Chanctonbury Ring but in the future it is occupied by a large and mysterious sphere that one night suddenly appears. I have two main characters who are brothers that feature in the story.
By creating this fictional world I am able to explore and comment on various ideas concerning science, mythology, history, society. I am also able to create situations and settings where I can invent and insert smaller stories within this world. These currently include performance art pieces, a rock group and a nightclub.
Science fiction has always looked to the future but very often it has its roots in the here and now. I do not consider my work political or a comment on today’s world. I try to look beyond the minutiae of the political chaos we are surrounded by and focus on ideas that transcend this, but in doing this I think it IS a comment on today’s confusing world and a desire to escape it.
My work is running on instincts elevating alternatives to contemporary interiors, honouring their importance and acknowledging their unnoticed being in daily life through a meditative painting process. Yet they do not pursue absolute familiarity rather, they are invented spaces. I am interested in the non-space and the space between real and imaginary as if telling a tale of the ways I comprehend my surroundings. Though primarily concerned with the tautology of interiors, I am often inspired by the phenomenon of aesthetically ordered geometries in urban architecture. My arrangements are schematic, intent on inviting the viewer to move into a space of speculation. Investigation into such spaces and the visual incidents which inhabit these spaces constantly feature in my work.
I am sympathetic to the ideology of pattern making, of a non-hierarchical process that goes on and on. I have decided to break down the hierarchies between decorative arts, design and fine art. I want to accept all these forms of art on equal terms.
I am interested in the notion of ‘post-truth’ and how today’s media shapes opinions of the ‘real’ by appealing to subjective emotions as opposed to communicating objective facts. Manipulating information and imagery through painting, I raise questions around the authenticity and dissemination of ‘truth’.
I see myself as an image-hunter, collector and archivist, reworking materials gathered from the press, TV broadcasts, film, and personal photographs. Those that are seen again and again, stand not just as isolated episodes but as social products, symptomatic of its contexts and values.
We speak of knowing the ‘whole truth’ yet the documentation we witness, imparts only carefully controlled fragmentary moments. By selecting, evaluating and re-presenting visuals of personal resonance, I try to articulate more comprehensive first-hand experiences out of these events.
My painting practice interrogates the physical and psychological landscapes we inhabit, specifically those shaped by proximity to violence. The idylls of gated communities in post-apartheid South Africa, provide some refuge. I use printing, painting, drawing and photography, found and developed, to reconstruct such poolside environments. Affluent Modernist homes and supposedly relaxed occupants reflect the privilege, politics and memories fabricating their lived realities. Offering voyeuristic viewpoints on intimate moments, my artworks convey an inescapable sense of being watched. Whether on the street or protectively walled, surveillance is a way of life. As voyeur, my paintings pose the question of who is watching? And yet, they also concede the guilt and collusion of white entitlement. Having benefited where others have suffered, I wish to continue addressing the legacy of apartheid through the increasingly contentious issue of land redistribution without compensation. This is foreground in a layered digital film about my mother’s childhood on a farm in Natal, informed by my experience as an immigrant to the UK.
The theme of my paintings is generally about the relationship between people, because it is attractive and important to me. We cannot live without the relationship between people and the relationship with the animals and the environment which is all around us. I want to continue my painting practice with this theme. I temporarily define my personal painting style as Figurative Expressionism. For me, the completion of a painting is not very important, I am more concerned by the balance of the painting and the story behind the picture.
For me, whether a painting is complete is not very important. My focus may be on the feeling of the painting itself, whether it is balanced overall. For me, painting is a tool for expressing and recording life, but it is not easy to present the things in my mind and in life in the paintings. Maybe I should pay more attention to my own life - the influence of Chinese culture on me, the influence of my Christian identity, my own personality, my growth experience and so on can be placed in my paintings.
My long-term collaborator, the astronomer Anastasia Kokori says that I am "always working on visualising something unseen". This aligns with how I seek to reveal the unconscious, invisible and spiritual through painting. I aim to depict more than superficial elements that remain unseen behind visible data or externalised matter. Through such mimetic processes, I explore both the scientific and the divine. I propose that painting has the potential to create enhanced versions of the realities embodied ‘unseen’ in artworks.
I agree with Albert Einstein's view that "The fairest thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the fundamental emotion which stands at the cradle of true art and true science." (Einstein, 1934.). My imaginative treatments of distant planets and suns in relation to time, memory and the mind arguably extend the reach of scientific thinking, suggesting new aspirations and goals to be reached. These large, gestural oil paintings, echo the curiosity on which human civilisation is built. Their earthy palettes and swirling waters of the seas recall a dramatic version of the original stored in my mind’s eye. Whether figurative forms, powerful landscapes, or unidentified creatures, they demonstrate my desire to understand the nature of the mysterious world around me. In this way, painting provides me with the means of reconstructing incomprehensible experiences as something touchable, tangible and communicable to others. My painting is an externalisation of the unseen and mysterious.
My current practice is focussed on a particular greenhouse within a landscape that I have been researching for the past two years. For me, the interior of the greenhouse is a landscape within a landscape. The greenhouse houses a sustainable farming method and eco-system called Aquaponics, where fish and plants live together and provide a constant supply of food for humans. The efficiency of this organic farming method and the pink lighting that is used means that plants can grow twice as fast as usual. Sadly, this greenhouse has been deemed unviable and has been assigned for demolition in the name of progress. I wanted to record this fantastic agricultural system, which I believe does have future, backed up by current research and innovations in the farming industry. I want to bring it to the attention of others whilst exploring its mesmerising aesthetics and methods through painting.
I am interested in the aesthetics of the plants silhouetted against the backdrop of the geometric form of the greenhouse structure, bathed in both diffused and pink light. I paint the structure of the greenhouse quite precisely and slowly, but when I am placing the plants in the painting, I am more interested in the immediacy of the mark - I want to capture the sense of the plants being alive. With Aquaponics, some plants are suspended with their roots in the fish ponds, creating the most wonderful array of foliage in the air. My paintings are a contradiction of precision and looseness, the qualities that I have witnessed in these beautiful and lively interiors.
My practice derives from a sense of place and community anchored in the politics and experiences of a working-class background. Using the concepts of archaeological digs, my artworks attempt to drill into the power relations and inequalities at work in the representation of social groups .
The theoretical research that drives it, builds on my previous work researching the occlusion of working-class history. Now predominantly printing, the ethnographic layers I address are carved and engraved into, and under, the surfaces of Lino, paper, metal and wood.
Beginning by making a series of Prints of the Gilets Jaunes protests in France, I have spent the last six months researching protest movements.Two tribes explores the divisory issues of discrimination emerging in the context of Brexit. Making banners from hand cut printed images has become part of my practice- exploring how the graphic quality of relief prints can create a strong, vibrant image.
The culmination of my research has resulted in Never Stop, a relief print measuring 1.7 by .9 metres, representing twelve images of historic protest movements, beginning with Peterloo and ending with Extinction Rebellion.
Printing offers me the materiality and medium to experiment with images of strength and violence, representing a tactile anger in keeping with the times that we live in.