As instruments of many childhood games and make-believe stories, old toys, along with domestic objects, natural forms, images of birds, insects and animals, have become the focus of my artwork. Through drawing these everyday objects and the natural world, I aim to explore the nature of reality and reveal the 'interior' mystery of things.
The intense and uncanny experiences I had as a child remain vivid in my memory. The world I inhabited seemed strangely alive, as though everything in it had a secret life of its own. The garden where I played by day, inhabited by strange creatures, snails, beetles, birds and butterflies. By night, the knowing faces of my toys gazed down from shelves, whilst objects and furniture blurred, illuminated only by the dim glow of the street lamp. All seemed strangely aware of my presence, while passing car lights threw moving shadows onto the walls. To me, these common place experiences were beautiful, thrilling and frightening, and hinted at greater hidden possibilities outside of everyday consciousness and comprehension. Every so often I felt I obtained a brief glimpse of something “other,” but never enough to understand what I was seeing.
As an adult, part of me still longs to rekindle that curious sense of wonder, to rediscover the secret life of things and bring it out into the light. Whilst I can remember the feelings, as an adult the experience of wonder is somewhat elusive and out of reach. Caught up in the everyday routines of grown up life, I yearn for the paradisiacal, the beautiful and the magical. However, in the adult world of materialism, with war reports and media images of terror and devastation, how does one make sense of the world now?
I work both from photographs and from observed objects within a still life. The still life set ups often reference fairy stories, nursery rhymes, or Old Master paintings, and are used as a foundation to explore events and feelings unfolding in the world around me. In the set ups, toys take centre stage and often become metaphors for myself, or the people I love. I am interested in how toys, in an adult context, can still be used as vehicles for personification, interpretation, and as a catalyst for narrative. Posed as though in mid action, I aim to suggest a narrative which provokes the uncanny sensation that these still figures are somehow alive.
In other works I have photographed dead doves, staged as if brought back to life. From these photographs I have created detailed drawings where the doves float, weightless in an unknown realm, or perhaps in the weightless black of outer-space. Whether they are alive or dead within the drawing is intentionally ambiguous and is left open to the interpretation of the viewer.
I also draw animals, trees, flowers and nature as a means to rediscover a sense of everyday magic, because something about drawing them delights me and seems to offer some new insight into the world I inhabit now, gleaned from the drawing process itself.