My new work brings together working from direct observation and working collaboratively. I am asking a series od people to pose for a portrait in a location that has a special significance to them – a personal space.
My aim is to make work which communicates to the viewer in human terms, the essence of what it is to be human without cliché and without recourse to well-worn tropes and short cuts a to a kind of constructed authenticity.
The works are made out of a process of dialogue with the sitters. The sitters decide where they want to be depicted, and conversations around these choices are the beginning of a long and intense collaborative relationship. The works will be done in situ, outside the studio, with optional indoor studio sessions to work on the portraits from life.
The difficulty of drawing/painting in a variety of different contexts outside the studio is a big part of the work, and the process of making these pieces in the public eye is important in demystifying the process of making art. The aim is to challenge the way we rely on photography to mediate our experience of the world and to produce images that have emotional power and personal meaning. The works are large in scale and will be made directly from observation – eschewing photography and challenging forms of representation which tend towards the fleeting and superficial.
In choosing to revive a way of representing people in places that was only the preserve of the rich and powerful (like a latter-day ‘Court painter’) and using this methodology to tell the stories of everyday people I want to challenge how we see ourselves and each other.
The work continues to be a challenge to my abilities in drawing and painting, in combining portraiture and landscape on a large scale, along with the depiction of any of a host of different elements and environments, as defined by the participants. The rationale behind this work is not a ‘back to basics’ reactionary position, but rather, it is an exploration of the potential for old ways of making art – portraiture – to co-exist with new approaches – socially engaged practices.